How is Spanish Wine Classified?

Published on 2/1/2010 in Facts About Spain

Spain has devoted over 1.17 million hectares of its area to viticulture. This puts Spain at the top of the list in terms of area under viticulture, but the low yield means that this country falls third - behind Italy and France - in wine production.

Spanish wineWine regions in Spain are classified according to the quality of wine they produce, slotted into standards prevalent all over Europe. The highest quality of wine comes from "Denominación de Origen de Pago", or DO de Pago. Geographical criteria here are extremely strict, with only single-estates being given the honor of the DO de Pago. Out of the 9 estates in Spain with DO de Pago status 6 are in Castile-La Mancha and 3 are in Navarra.

The next grade of wine is Denominación de Origen Calificada, or DOCa. Regions with this status are known for their consistency and quality, but do not reach the standards of the DO de Pago. There are, surprisingly, only 2 regions which hold DOCa status - Rioja and Priorat.

Thirdly, we arrive at mainstream wines. Regions which produce high-quality mainstream wines are given the status of Denomiación de Origen or DO. Spain has 66 wine regions which have acquired DO status.

Finally, we come to the Vino de Calidad con Indicación Geográfica. This category serves as a catch-all for wineries that are just beginning to raise their quality to classifiable levels. Currently, Spain has 2 regions in this category.

Table wine, however, is a different grade of wine that is not considered classification-worthy by the European QWPSR (Quality Wines Produced in a Specified Region) authorities.

Vino de la Tierra is "country wine", which is usually sold with a regional name. Today, Spain has 46 such regions.

Lastly, we come to the Vino de Mesa. "Mesa" is Spanish for table, so "Vino de Mesa" quite literally means "Table Wine". This is bulk-grown, over a wide variety of regions, and has no special value for connoisseurs. They are sold with a "Produce of Spain" label, without any dates or designated area. The number of such producers is falling steeply.

Labelling of Spanish wine bottles is usually done according to the age of the wine. Wine is aged in barrels, though some wine may also age in the bottle itself. The words "vino joven" and "sin crianza" denote a young wine.

Crianza wines are the youngest of the aged wines, followed by Reserva and Gran Reserva. The rules of ageing for each of these wines varies, according to whether the wine is white, red or rosé.

Hopefully, this outline will help you identify the quality and age of your wine, at least according to the rules. Individual preferences, of course, always matter.

Written by: Todd Duan

About the author:

Todd writes for Baileys Wines.  Navarra and Jumilla are among two of Spain's largest and best wine regions. Try out Navarra wine and Jumilla wine today!

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