Spanish red wines offer offer exceptional value and a bold entry into the red wines of Europe. Here are 7 major Spanish red wines to get a basic understanding of what the country has to offer. You can find great sub-$15 fruity crowd pleasers but there are also bold high tannin red wines that easily match the top collector’s wines of the world.
Wine was introduced to Spain by the Phoenicians in 800 BC. Because of this, the wines of the Iberian peninsula are not the same French varieties we grow in the US. The wines are striking and unique, they also match perfectly with rich foods including thick cut cheddar burgers, empanadas, bbq skewers and pork roast.
- Tasting Notes: Sour Cherry, Plum, Spicy Black Pepper and Bay Leaf
- Average cost: $10–20
- Regions: Rioja Crianza, Ribera del Duero Roble and Crianza, Valdepeñas, Tinto de Toro, La Mancha, Castilla-León, Extremadura
A juicy and spicy style of Tempranillo that typically receives less than a year of aging. Because wines are not aged long, they are spicy, fleshy and tart. Most value-driven Tempranillo tastes this way and the most well-known example of it is Rioja Crianza. In Central Spain, there are sub-$10 wines which are ideal for traditional Spanish Sangria.
- Tasting Notes: Strawberry, Ruby Red Grapefruit, Hibiscus and Black Tea
- Average cost: $12–18
- Regions: Calatayud, Somotano, Navarra, Cariñena, Campo de Borja, La Mancha
Garnacha is known as Grenache in France, but the grape originated in Spain. This fresh and juicy style of Garnacha is a bouquet of sweet red fruit and a smooth iced tea like finish. You’ll find this style of Garnacha in Northern Spain close to the border of France in the encompassing regions of Aragon and Navarra. Young Garnacha typically makes a wonderfully candied red fruit flavored Sangria.
Fine Garnacha and Garnacha Blends
- Tasting Notes: Grilled Plum, Red Licorice, Juniper and Crushed Gravel
- Average cost: $25–35
- Regions: Vinos de Madrid, Campo de Borja, Priorat, Méntrida
High end Garnachas are bold and complex with high tannin and dark raspberry flavors. These wines are aged longer and typically come from older vineyards. You can find single varietal Garnacha around Madrid, where old vines in high elevation vineyards produce concentrated wines. In Spain, blended Garnacha is matched with Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cariñena and delivers bolder styles with blackberry and licorice.
- Tasting Notes: Blackberry Sauce, Chocolate, Potting Soil and Smoke
- Average cost: $10–18
- Regions: Jumilla, Alicante, Valencia, Bullas, La Mancha, Yecla
Monastrell is the same wine as Mourvèdre in France, but it’s actually a wine of Spanish origin. Wines are intensely bold with high tannin, black fruit and black pepper flavors. This wine is primarily produced in Central Spain from the Mediterranean coast in Valencia to inland to La Mancha on the central plateau. Most wines are produced in affordable style and offer excellent value. The more aging in oak, the more mocha, chocolate and vanilla notes the wine will have.
- Tasting Notes: Pomegranate, Black Licorice, Crushed Gravel and Graphite
- Average cost: $20–30
- Regions: Bierzo, Ribeira Sacra, Monterrei, Valdoerras
Mencía (pronounced Men-THEE-ah) is a unique medium bodied wine that grows in Spain and Portugal. Wine collectors have likened Mencía it to Grand Cru Burgundy because of its’ layers red fruit, floral aromas and moderate mouth-drying tannins. The wines are made in Northwest Spain around the encompassing region of Galicia and in Portugal in the Dão region. Wines from Bierzo and Monterrei tend to be more full bodied and wines from Valdoerras tend to be lighter. The Monterrei and Ribeira Sacra regions sometimes blend Mencía with other local grapes including Bastardo.
- Tasting Notes: Black Cherry, Dried Green Herbs, Violet and Cocoa Powder
- Average cost: $15–18
- Regions: Utiel-Requena, Manchuela
A relatively unknown grape to the US due to very little importations, Bobal is known mostly in Central Spain where it’s prized for its deep opaque purple color, high tannins and black fruit flavors. The wines were once studied and characterized as having higher levels of resveratrol. Since the wine does have ample tannin, be sure to pair with a richly flavored meat, like carne asada.