Feb 212013
Inflated Wines, corkage in Spain

Wine producers have always criticised restaurants for charging too much for their wines, and the restaurants reply that to survive they have to uplift prices by two or three times their cost. Both groups are right in a way, and unfortunately the practice of charging a fixed uplift per bottle instead of a percentage increase has few practitioners. Restaurants are also right when they claim that to acquire and store an expensive wine costs more […]

Oct 292011
Appetite for Spain growing, encouraged by great food and wonderful wines

The popularity of Spanish food and wines is on the up and up! Surreptitiously Spanish food products have been taking up residence on the supermarket shelf. On a recent trip to my Irish supermarket I noticed a few new products nestling amongst the curry sauces and fajita mixes; paella seasoning, alioli, smoked paprika and patatas bravas sauce have made an appearance. Whilst olives and chorizo are now commonplace in the supermarket aisles we are definitely […]

Mar 252011
Spanish wine battling in a competitive world

Ask yourself this question: suppose you own a winery in, say, Navarra, and your products are well-made, realistically-priced wines.  You have invested some money in getting the presentation right and the result is an attractive-looking bottle at a fair price – not too expensive, but not in the wine-in-a-box category either. So, whom do you sell it to – because every distributor has more wines than he knows what to do with, and it is […]

Mar 202011
Riojas, wines with true wine aristocracy!

What is generally referred to as the Spanish wine aristocracy of Spain exists in the true sense of the term only in the Rioja and Jerez regions.  While the number of Spanish wines calling themselves Marqués of this and Conde of that are legion, the vast majority are ‘rented’ names, with the nobles in question authorising the wineries to use their titles in exchange for an annual fee, royalty, or a lifetime supply of free […]

Feb 172011
Somontano wines – grab them if you can!

So it’s official, or at least TIME Magazine said so a while back. More people are making wine and less people are drinking it. The reduction in wine consumption worldwide (I am not going to get into the reasons for this) does not seem to be a turn-off for Pepe Garcia or Peter Smith, when it comes to setting up a winery. Every wine maker or potential wine maker believes that he or she has […]

Feb 012011
Spanish wine: to DO or not to DO!

Three or four decades ago Spanish wine producers could not care less whether their region was classified as DO or not (DO: Denominación de Origen, equivalent to the French Apellation d’Origine Contrôlée). A few metres can make the difference to whether a Spanish wine is classified as, for example, a Rioja, or a vino de mesa (non-DO), even though, in the latter case, it may have all the qualities required.  Obviously the boundaries of the […]

Jan 282011
Spanish wine of the conquistadores

How many DO areas are there in Spain?  Twelve, thirty-seven, sixty two?  The last number is the correct answer, although it may be out of date by the time you read this.  More DOs are added every year  When you consider that Rueda only entered in1980 and Ribera del Duero in 1982, you can appreciate that many now-famous regions are mere spring chickens in the DO stakes.  Nevertheless there are still excellent wines made in […]

Dec 312010
The ‘joys’ of being a Spanish wine critic

Well, being a Spanish wine critic is certainly not joy all the way, as the hours are long and we are always up against deadlines (of which Douglas Adams – Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – once said, “I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by..”).  Of course, the trick is not to take being a Spanish wine critic too seriously. Fortunately, at least here in Spain we are […]

Dec 242010
Traditional food and wine for Christmas in Spain

The fiesta-loving Spaniards have drawn the short straw this year.  Christmas Eve, the main day for celebrating Christmas in Spain, falls on a Friday so most people will work until midday and then be back at their desks or machines on Monday: only a half-day net holiday.  Next year will be even worse!  Spain is not alone as most of mainland Europe celebrates Christmas Eve rather than Christmas Day (although curiously the Catalans are among […]

Dec 232010
Wines for Christmas in Spain

A wine writer’s job is a tough one.  “Review some wines for Christmas in Spain” said Nick, clearly ignorant of the fact that the deadline was only a few days away.  No time to get samples from any of the Spanish bodegas, much less have an in-depth tasting session, so it was off on my bike for an against-the-clock tour around the local outlets.  This is despite the fact that, as always, I am ill-prepared […]

Dec 172010
Spanish wine grape varieties

Spanish wine grape varieties Of course, given the sheer size of Spain, there are a whole number of different Spanish wine grape varieties.  These are the main ones: Priorato is the hottest Spanish wine region currently thanks to the Garnacha grape.  A decade ago no-one imagined good Spanish wine could be produced here, the vineyards were built on slate and yields were tiny.  In fact, these Spanish wines were overloaded with tannin.  However, the addition […]

Nov 012010
Spaniards, wine and Casa Quemada

Wine people and Casa Quemada! How many times have you heard someone order ‘un Valdepeñas’ when asking for a cheap Spanish wine, much as one asks for ‘una caña’ when ordering a beer? Of course, you will get what the barman wants to give you, and in the case of a caña – this is like ordering a pint in a British pub, but with absolutely no control over the size of the glass the beer […]