The Most Famous Wines in Spain

wine in spain
Spain's most famous wine regions are in La Rioja and Ribera del Duero. Image: Jenny Downing/Creative Commons (some rights reserved)

The most famous Spanish red wine in Spain comes from the regions of La Rioja and Ribera del Duero. La Rioja is located in northern Spain just south of the Basque Country, right below the Cantabrian Mountains, where vineyards make up the Ebro valley. There are many summer festivals here including a popular wine battle called the Batalla de Vino. Ribera del Duero is also located in northern Spain and is considered one of the eleven regions of Castile and Leon with quality wine.

In fact, this community has been making wine for over 2,000 years. Although these regions are fairly remote, wine connoisseurs can sample these wines in their region by participating in one of the various wine tours of Spain. The wine regions of La Rioja and Ribera del Duero have bright and fruity wineries that are abundant and cheap in comparison to the rest of Spain.

La Rioja

The most common grape used for Rioja is Tempranillo, a grape native to Spain. The name is derived from the Spanish word temprano, which means "early," as the grape becomes ripe earlier than other grapes. Other grapes used for Rioja include Garnacha Tinta, Graciano, and Mazuelo. Every year, the region makes over 250 million liters of wine. Travelers can sample this wine at a bar by going to the Calle Laurel in Logroño or visiting a vineyard or winery directly.

Those looking for a wine festival with adventure can visit the Haro Wine Festival in Haro, a town in the La Rioja region that's famous for producing this red wine. The celebration takes place annually in June and goes all the way back to the 13th century when Haro divided property lines between itself and its neighbor Miranda De Ebro. Today, attendees wear white shirts and a red scarf before the famous wine battle happens, where they use vessels like buckets and sprayers to launch their wine in. In fact, this tradition is encouraged.

Ribera del Duero

Ribera del Duero is a stretch of land along the river Duero in Castilla-Leon, extending from Burgos to Valladolid and including the town of Peñafiel. Ribera del Duero wine uses Cabernet Sauvignon and Tempranillo grapes. The most expensive wine in Spain, made by the notable Vega Sicilia winery, comes from this region. Other famous red wine regions in Spain include Navarra, Priorato, Penedès, and Albariño.

The most popular Ribera del Duero wines include the Vega Sicilia Unico Gran Reserva, Dominio de Pingus "Pingus," and Aalto. These suggested wines can range anywhere from $43 a bottle all the way up to $413 per bottle.

Red and White Wine

When dining in Spain, the immense popularity of Rioja and Ribera del Duero often results in restaurant waiters suggesting between the two. In comparison to Rioja, Ribera is generally considered more of a luxury, and it is more expensive. Although red wine is the most popular from these two regions, there are some  Spanish white wines available. For example, White Rioja from Viura is a good choice, along with Sherry and Cava.