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The types of Grapes Used

Let’s look at some grape varieties that come from Spain. Most people around the world would not necessarily recognize these names but they are the main force of traditional Spanish wine. Grape names are not much used in Spain. In most restaurants or wine shops, wines are classified according to their origin. Spanish wine regulations limit regions, which means that in order to understand how a wine will be you should know something about that particular region! More and more producers do however include the name of the grape in their labels. We will list here the most important and common Spanish grape varietals.

Spanish Red Wine Grape Varieties

Garnacha (Grenache)

A grape of Spanish origin despite most people associate it with the Rhone valley in France. This grape can be found in nearly all wine countries around the world. In Spain, it is found in the Northeast area, La Rioja, Navarra, Aragón, and Cataluña. In Rioja, it is normally blended with Tempranillo.

This grape can produce fruity wines, with raspberry aromas. This grape is more commonly known as Grenache, when it grows in the south of France, such as the Rhône Valley. It is a thin-skinned grape that is often blended with other varietals. In Spain, it comprises the majority of the best wines of Priorat and is also used as a blending grape in Rioja and in Cava sparkling wines. It produces dried red fruit flavors with herbal and spicy notes.


Tempranillo is the best-known quality Red Wine Grape in Spain. “Temprano” means early in Spanish, and the name Tempranillo refers to the early time the grape has been traditionally harvested. Tempranillo is also known as Tinto Fino in Ribera del Duero, Cencibel in La Mancha and Ull de Llebre in Catalonia.

Its home is, however, La Rioja. Tempranillo produces fresh and fruity young red wines but it shows its best when oak-aged. This is the most ubiquitous grape in Spain. It is the mainstay and backbone of two of the country’s most famous wines: Rioja and Ribera del Duero.

Different regions have different names for Tempranillo, it is also known as Tinta del Pais, Cencinbel, Ull de Llebre, Tinto Fino, and Tinto del Toro, among others. It makes wines of structure and age-worthiness that have aromas of dried red currant, and red cherry with notes of smoke, cedar, and leather.


Found mainly in Valencia, Bobal wines are full-bodied and colorful. Their quality has witnessed a very important increase in the last years.

Cabernet Sauvignon

You are right, this is not a Spanish grape varietal! The increasing demand for varietal wines in importing countries has made many Spanish plant cabernet. As Cabernet grows well nearly everywhere, the results have been very good in Spain. As Cabernet is fairly tannic it is often blended with other grapes to produce more complex wines. You will find Cabernet wines in different regions in Spain (La Mancha, Catalonia, Navarra, etc.)


It is the typical grape of Murcia and the south of Valencia. It produces powerful wines with great structure and strength somewhat higher than normal. A few years ago, these wines were very successful in Anglo-Saxon countries.


Yet again another French grape variety in Spain. Merlot has also been quite successful (though to a lesser extent than Cabernet) in Spain and can be found in many different regions.


Syrah has become relatively popular in Spain, mainly in La Mancha and in the Mediterranean areas. In Spain, you will find a very different Syrah to the Rhone or Australian Syrah. Spanish Syrah wines are normally full bodied, high in alcohol.

Tinta de Toro is of the Tempranillo grape family and is most typically grown in Zamora. The Cariñena and Garnacha grape varieties are both widespread in different regions of Spain and in other wine-producing countries around the world.

There are many more red wine grape varieties: Manto Negro from the Balearic islands, Negramoll and Listán Negro from the Canary islands, Prieto Picudo from León, Brancellaoand Caíño from Galicia. Also, in Galicia, Alicante, and Albacete, we can find the interesting grape variety called Garnacha Tintorera, the only variety of red grape whose pulp is also purple.

Spanish White Wine Grape Varieties


Sometimes this Spanish grape varietal is thought to be the name of the appellation of origin where the wines are produced (Rias Baixas in the Northwest of Spain, in Galicia) Albariño wines are aromatic, crispy and with a distinctive aroma. It produces acid wines, but also with high glycerine that gives them a silky texture.

This white grape is one of the country’s most famous. It grows mostly in northwestern Spain in the Autonomias of Galicia. Its best examples come from Rías Baixas DO on the Atlantic Ocean coast near the border of Portugal. The wines are tropically scented with layers of sea spray, notes of orange and bergamot oil. They brim with juicy acidity, which makes them great with food.


Typical grape of the D.O. Rueda. Wine from this grape has gained lots of commercial strength in the recent past. Verdejo wines are aromatic (with a tropical character), with the body. Some producers opt for oak aging, and the results have been very good.


There is only one place, where Palomino is made into quality wine and that is in the southernmost part of continental Spain, Andalucía. Here, it is made into the famous oxidized and fortified wines of Sherry/Jerez. While Palomino does not make for great table wine, it brings something precious to the table when it is aged and fortified in the Sherry-making process.


Though unknown to many people, this Spanish white varietal is the world’s most planted grape in the world. The grape was traditionally used for the production of alcohol that served as the base for Brandy.

Viura / Macabeo

Along with Xarel-lo and Parraleda, this is one of the three main grapes used in the production of Cava, Spain’s most famous sparkling wine. It is also used as the main grape for the white wines of Rioja. It is a dense grape with flavors of green apple and pears that brings weight and texture to its wines.

Cariñena / Mazuelo

Used all over Spain and also found all throughout the Mediterranean corridor, where it often goes by the name Carignan. It is typically used as a blending grape in Rioja and is also the other top grape of Priorat. It brings structure, weight, and tannin to the wines, as well as blue fruits like plums and dried blueberry.

Popular Spanish Wine Varieties

Below, you’ll find a complete list of all of the various Spanish wine varieties available on the market. Use the list below to determine which Spanish wine variety is best suited for your flavor profile and wants.

Complete list of Spanish Wine Varieties:

  1. Aguardiente – A strong transparent spirit distilled from vegetables, called “Firewater”, drunk as a digestif after a heavy meal to aid digestion
  2. Albariza – The famous sparkling white soils of Jerez Sherry country, characterized by its high limestone content.
  3. Albariño – Fresh, crisp white wine from the Rias Baixas appellation of Galicia. It’s also the name of the primary grape in these elegant wines.
  4. Alella – The smallest D.O. in Spain, located just north of Barcelona. Known for fresh crisp white wines and excellent Canvas. Top names are Carmenet and Marques de Alella.
  5. Amargo – Bitter
  6. Amontillado – A type of Sherry or Montilla, aged and amber colored with a nutty flavor
  7. Barrica – The classic 225-liter oak barrel used to age wine, made from French or American oak.
  8. Bodega – Means “Winery”, “Cellar”, and confusingly, even “Wine Bar”
  9. Bodeguero – The winery owner/manager
  10. Capataz – A master wine taster in Jerez Sherry country
  11. Cava – A sparkling wine, usually from Penedés (with Xarel.lo, Parellada and Macabeu grapes) made in accordance with the Methode Champenois and aged at least nine months. There is a Gran Reserva qualification for aged Cavas of the Penedés
  12. Cepa – Grape Varietal
  13. Cosecha – Vintage, harvest
  14. Deguelle – The disgorging process used for sparkling wines. Called “Degorgement” in French.
  15. Dorado – a fortified wine made in the Rueda region with the Verdejo grape.
  16. Dulce – sweet
  17. Enologia – Winemaking
  18. Espeso – Heavy (“thick”), weighty wine
  19. Espumosa – Sparkling
  20. Fino – A type of sherry or Montilla, young, salty, tasting of the sea
  21. Galicia – Coastal region in Northwest Spain famous for seafood, dry white Albariño based wines and it’s the Celtic culture
  22. Garnacha– Grenache grape varietal
  23. Garnatxa d’Emporda – A sweet dessert wine made in the Ampurdan, Costa Brava (north of Barcelona)
  24. Generoso – A fortified aperitif or dessert wine
  25. Jerez de la Frontera – The principal Sherry wine town, located in southwest Spain in the province of Cádiz.
  26. Jumilla – Area in Murcia known for robust red wines whose best wines are made with the Monastrell and Petit Verdot grapes. L’Ermita is a great winery.
  27. Manzanilla – Very dry sherry style wine, Manzanilla only comes from the town of Sanlucar de Barrameda, part of the Sherry Triangle.
  28. Moscatel – Sweet dessert wine, excellent Moscatels are made in the Alicante region
  29. Navarra – Wine region located just east of La Rioja. Traditionally famous for Rosado wines, now more and more for international blends. Top names are Ochoa and Chivite.
  30. Oloroso – Dark, rich aged sherry
  31. Orujo – Typical digestif from Galicia. Similar to Aguardiente, it can be “white” (clear and strong) or flavored with honey or herbs)
  32. Pacharán – Sloeberry liqueur from Navarra/ Basque country.
  33. Pago – single vineyard, Château style estate bottled wine
  34. Priorat – the most exciting wine region in Spain at the moment, with serious winemakers such as Rene Barbier, Alvaro Palacios and Carles Pastrana making an international name for these prestigious wines. Located in Tarragona province, eastern Spain.
  35. Rioja – La Rioja is Spain’s most famous wine region, whose DO was established in the 1920s, but whose wineries were founded in the 1800s. Mainly red, oaky wines.
  36. Roble – Oak
  37. Rueda – the region for good value and great quality white wine in Spain. Fresh fruity whites are made with native Verdejo grape and often blended with Sauvignon Blanc