Spain is one of the top wine exporters on the planet, although they often get forgotten about. The Mediterranean climate is particularly suited for growing a wide range of red grape varieties, which produce stunning, delicious red wines.
Today we will discuss the most popular Spanish red wines, the regions they grow in, and their complex flavor profiles.
So, what are the most popular types of Spanish red wines?
Rioja wine is a top-quality Spanish red wine grown and produced in the north-central part of the country.
Rioja wine contains blended fruits grown from La Rioja and the sub-regions of Navarre and Atava. The result is robust, age-worthy, Old World wine.
Tempranillo red wine grapes are the dominant grape in Rioja wine. This grape produces a full-bodied wine with a strong balance of acidity and berry flavors.
Rioja red wine also features Garnacha to give the final product a touch of fruity sweetness.
Rioja wine pairs well with red meats and bold Spanish dishes. I recommend trying it with steak, beef stew, or burritos. I find it also tastes delicious with salty cheese and olives.
The southeast corner of Spain produces bobal, a stunning dark-skinned wine grape that is almost as popular as Tempranillo grapes.
This grape is often used as a blend in other red wines. However, Spanish winemakers also produce bobal-centric wines.
Bobal is a structured wine with a rich flavor, velvety finish, and a dark red color. The wine has strong notes of chocolate and dried berries, a hint of licorice, and cocoa powder.
It is a medium-dry wine with medium tannins that goes well with gamey meats like rabbit and fruity sauces.
3. Garnacha Tinta
Although Garnacha Tinta is a red wine grape variety native to eastern Spain, it is a delicious grape that produces well-balanced wines all over the globe.
In addition to making high-quality red wines, Garnacha Tinta grapes also make incredible Rose.
Garnacha Tinta wines are generally fruit-forward, medium-bodied wines. They have strong notes of strawberries, plums, blackberries, raspberries, and cherries.
This Spanish red wine variety pairs well with a wide range of dishes, from chicken and fish to spicy sausage or hearty beef stews.
Priorat is a tiny region in the southern part of Spain that produces incredibly sought-after red wine.
The climate here is dry and hot and contains nothing but mountainous, rocky soil. These conditions are perfect for growing a variety of grapes for the world’s most popular red wines.
In Priorat, winemakers produce stunning blends of Garnacha and French wines including Syrah, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon.
No two blends are exactly alike. However, Priorat wine has strong notes of black cherry and plum. It has secondary notes of licorice, baking spices, minerals, leather, and oak.
This Spanish red wine is usually high in alcohol with a medium body and moderate acidity.
I prefer to pair Priorat red wine with slow-cooked meats, smoked salmon, lamb chops, or barbecue.
Like most red wines, Priorat has a bold palette that is best enjoyed alongside heavier meals.
5. Ribera del Duero
The wine region of Ribera del Duero spreads across northern Spain.
This region grows mainly Tempranillo grapes to produce mouthwatering, balanced, and high-quality red wine.
The wine is so good it is often served to Kings and Queens. To be honest, when I drink Ribera del Duero red wine, I feel like royalty myself.
This style of Spanish red wine consists of a minimum of 75% Tempranillo grapes, with the remaining 25% a blend of Malbec, Garnacha, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot.
Some blends also contain small quantities of the white grape varietal Albillo.
Ribera del Duero wine is aged up to two years in French oak casks. The overall flavor profile is bold with complex notes of spice, tobacco, cassis, red berries, and vanilla.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Tempranillo wine specifically. After all, it is Spain’s most famous and coveted red wine grapes.
A whopping 80% of Tempranillo grapes are grown in Spain. The wine these grapes make typically has a transparent ruby red color, a high tannin count, and a smooth finish.
It is a well-balanced wine that is a little bit earthy and a little bit fruity.
Tempranillo wine has strong red fruit flavors like cherry and plum. A refined palette will also pick up notes of clove, cedar, and leather.
It is necessary to age this style of Spanish red wine for a minimum of 6 months in French or American Oak casks, although most winemakers age them for more than one year.
When I get my hands on a bottle of Tempranillo wine, I prefer to pair it with tomato-based dishes like pasta or homemade pizza.
It also tastes wonderful with spicy Mexican food, corn-based recipes, and smoked meats.
Monstant is a Spanish wine region located in Catalonia. It got its name from the mountainous landscape of the region.
The grapes here are grown several thousand feet above sea level in rocky, granite-rich soil. They experience high heat during the day and cool temperatures at night.
Montsant is known for producing high-quality red wines with a strong Garnacha and Carinena grape presence. The resulting blends have a rich, dark red color.
The unique terroir of the region lends mineral notes to a generally smooth and complex wine.
The most obvious flavors are red and black fruits, such as plums, blackberries, and raspberries.
Monastrell wine originated in Spain several thousand years ago and goes by many names.
It has become a popular variety for those in the know, although it remains a relatively obscure red wine amongst the masses.
Monastrell, also known as Mourvedre or Alicante, is often blended with more popular grapes like Garnacha.
However, it can also be the star of its show. Monastrell wine is similar to a Cabernet Sauvignon, with a deep reddish-purple coloring. It has a blackberry flavor, with subtle notes of florals, black pepper, mocha, and gravel.
If you’ve ever had the pleasure of drinking Monastrell red wine, you’ll know it is a decadently dry, full-bodied wine with a rosy, herbal aroma.
It also has a gamey, meat-like taste, which can be off-putting to some. It pairs well with rich foods like pork sausage or barbecued ribs.
Another obscure Spanish red wine is Mencía. This wine variety is exclusively grown on Spain’s Iberian peninsula and is known for its incredible aromas and full body.
Mencía grapes are a bit tricky to grow. As a result, the wine they make comes in limited quantities.
I love the sour cherry flavor and light, floral notes of Mencía. It also has grounding minerals and herbal notes that help balance each sip.
Despite how light and aromatic Mencía is, the wine has a deep burgundy color, medium-high tannins, and high acidity.
You can enjoy this wine on its own and it tastes delicious alongside grilled vegetables, spicy chicken, or pork.
Valdepeñas is a south-central region of Spain that produces incredibly nuanced and complex red wine.
As an inland region surrounded by mountains, the grapes here are not as susceptible to the whims of the semi-arid Mediterranean climate.
Red wine from Valdepeñas varies in structure and prominent flavor. However, most have red fruit flavors like cherry and raspberry.
The stony soil of the region consists of chalk and limestone deposits which also show up in the flavor profile of the light-red wine.
It is a blend of red and white grapes, which gives it a light body and a velvety finish.
I recommend drinking Valdepeñas wine with spicy dishes to balance the heat. It also makes a nice sipping wine on hot summer days.
Jumilla is a Spanish red wine grown exclusively in Murcia, a tiny southeastern coastal region known for its wine production.
The harsh climate is hot and arid, with rocky, lime-rich soil and minimal rainfall.
The base of Jumilla wine consists of Monastrell grapes, which have a strong berry and floral flavor.
They are supplemented with other grape varieties like Merlot, Syrah, and Cabernet Sauvignon. However, to be considered Jumilla wine, it must be at least 80% Monastrell.
In my opinion, Jumilla wine is the smoothest Spanish red wine. It also has a rich, velvety finish that complements any meal.
It is well structured, purple-colored red wine that doesn’t overpower you with its fruit-forward flavor profile. I often grab a bottle of Jumilla just to sip and enjoy.