Spanish Wine Labeling

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Spanish Wine Labeling

While not as complicated as German wine labels, Spain does have its own set of wine labeling terms that are unique to that country.

Quality Designations

Similar to Appellation d’Origine Controlee (AOC) designations in France of Denominazione di Origine Controllata (DOC) designations in Italy, Spain has its own designation for quality wine called Denominacion de Origen (DO). The DO designation indicates that the wine has come from one of more than 60 specified regions of Spain, and that the wine adheres to rules concerning which grape(s) can be used, alcohol levels, and other factors related to the production of the wine. DO specified regions include Rias Baixas for Albarino, Ribera del Duero for Tempranillo-based blends and Penedes for Cava.

Additionally, Rioja and Priorat qualify for a higher designation called Denominacion de Origen Calificada, abbreviated DOCa or DOQ.  These designations represent the highest quality of Spanish wine. 

Aging Designations

In additional to labeling regarding the quality of the wine, Spanish wine labels may include terms that indicate how long the wine has been aged. These terms are not required and are most commonly seen on wines from Rioja or Ribera del Duero. 

Joven: Meaning “youth” in Spanish, these wines are meant to be consumed young and may not even be aged in oak before being released. 

Crianza:  Probably the most commonly seen, these wines must be aged for two years before being released, with at least one of those years in oak.

Reserva:  Reserva wines are one step up from Crianza and must be aged for three years, with at least one year in oak.

Gran Reserva: Gran Reserva wines are only made in the best vintages and have much more extensive aging requirements. They must be aged for five years total, with at least 18 months in oak.   By labeling definitions, a Gran Reserva Rioja is the best wine from the best vintage and region in Spain--worth the money when you can find them!


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