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Reading wine labels - SPAIN

Wine labels are the cover for the wine. They can tell you a whole story or they will just say that there is wine in the bottle. Wine labels can be different depending on the country, region, or even producer from where the wine is coming from.


Words that are usually written on a wine label are (not necessary all at the same time):

- grape variety, - the country of origin,

- quality designation, - the name of the wine,

- name of the winery or the producer, - a vintage year,

- the place where the wine was produced/bottled.


In this post, you will be able to read and learn about some of the most common words that appear on Spanish wine labels and about the basic quality designations.

Quality designations:

DOCa - Denominación Origen Calificada - quality designation awarded only to Rioja and Priorat wine regions in Spain. In Priorat it is known as DOQ.

DO - Denominación de Origen - equal to AOP and DOC. Regulates the quality and the origin of the wine (used also for other Spanish products, like olive oil and cheese).

DO PAGO - Denominación de Origen Pago / VP -Vino de Pago - a quality designation for single wine-producing estates / a single-vineyard wine. There are ~15 vino de Pagos, found mostly in Castilla-La Mancha and Navarra.

IGP - Indicación Geográfica Protegida - replacement for former VdlT classification. Here are everyday wines from grapes from larger regional zones with lower quality requirements than DOP. ~46 IGPs.

Vino de Pueblo, Vi de Vila - Burgundian-based classification, allowing wines to be sold as products from a single village.

VC - Vino de Calidad con Indicación Geográfica - level down from DO.Vino / Vino de España - basic EU classification, replacement for Vino de Mesa.


Words that appear on Spanish wine labels:

  • Vino - wine

  • Año - year

  • Blanco - white

  • Tinto - red

  • Rosado - rosé

  • Seco - dry

  • Dulce - sweet

  • Bodega - winery

  • Viña - vineyard

  • Vino Generoso - a fortified wine

  • Vendimia - harvest (vintage)

  • Cosecha - a vintage year

  • Embotellado (de origen) en la propiedad - bottled at the estate

  • Cava - sparkling wine by the traditional method

  • Clarete - light red or rosé wine

Aging classifications: There are four levels of aging classifications used for Spanish wines. Longer aging gives more developed aromas, with richer flavors.

  • Joven - young wine. Has little or no oak contact at all. It is for DOP wines. For example for basic Rioja.

  • Crianza - the designation for wine that has been aged for at least two years and a minimum of 6 months in oak. Rioja and Ribera del Duero require 1 year in oak for red wines.

  • Reserva - the requirement is 36 months for red wine (24 months for white and rosé) with a minimum of 12 months (6 months for white and rosé) in oak.

  • Gran Reserva - wine aged for a total of 60 months with a minimum of 18-24 months in oak and 36-42 months in bottle.

  • Roble - young wine with little time in oak.

  • Noble - wine with 18 months in oak.

  • Añejo - wine with 24 months in oak.

  • Viejo - wine with 36 months in oak with oxidative character and flavors.

Label 1: Castillo de Liria (producer) - this label says quite a lot, with English translation included.

Label 2: Manzanilla Pasada (a type of wine), Pastrana single vineyard sherry (sherry from a single vineyard), Hidalgo (sherry producer) - the rest of the words on the label is the story of the wine with the signatures (probably) from the winemaker.

Label 3: Embotellado en la Propiedad (bottled at the property), Rioja badge (can be seen on all Rioja wines), Allende (first-class bodega), Avrvs (a proprietary name for the estate's top wine).

Label 4: Embotallat a la Proprietat (estate bottled), Clos Mogador (single vineyard name), René Barbier (producer).

Label 5: Freixenet (producer), Cordon Negro (Cava brand), Brut (sweetness level).

Label 6: Juvé e Camps (producer), brut nature (no added sugar), Gran Reserva Cava (30 months of aging on lees before disgorgement).

Label 7: Baron de Ley (producer).

Label 8: Chivite (producer).

Label 9: Portia (producer).

Label 10: Old hands (brand name).

Label 11: Carlos Serres (producer).

Label 12: Vina Ardanza (brand name), La Rioja Alta (producer).

Label 13: Janus (top bottling from the estate), Pesquera (producer).

Dominant grapes in some of the Spanish wine regions:

- Rioja: Tempranillo is the predominant grape; other grapes are Garnacha, Mazuelo (Carignan), Graciano, Cabernet Sauvignon. Viura (Macabero) is used for white wines.

- Navarra: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Tempranillo, Garnacha. Chardonnay is used for whites.

- Ribera del Duero: Tempranillo.

- Catalonia: Cava varieties - Parellada, Xarel-lo, Macabero.

- Priorat: old-vine Garnacha, Cariñena.

- Rias Baixas: Albariño.

- Galicia: Mencia.

- Jumila: Monastrell (Mourvèdre).

As always have a WINEderful day! :)

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