5 Spanish Wines to Sip & Serve this Summer

If you're anything like me (and like most people!), you tend to buy and order the same wines over and over again. There's nothing wrong with that, but I think summer should be a time of trying new and different things, and in this case? That means new and different wines!

That's why I pulled together this easy summer wine cheat sheet for you. Whether you're looking to mix things up with something new, or just looking for the best wine to mix in your next batch of party sangria, I've got you covered!

I recently had the chance to join a group of winemakers and importers from Spain who introduced me to an incredible variety of wines from Ribera del Duero and Rueda. These two sister regions are located about two hours north of Madrid in the North-Central part of Spain, and are kind of like the Spanish equivalent to California's Napa and Sonoma Valleys.

But unlike the gorgeous and temperate rolling California hills, the climate in this part of Spain ranges wildly from blazing hot summers to cruel freezing winters. Not great living conditions for humans (or even many animals!), but it does magnificent things to the grapes...and the wines.

Also unlike California wine country, the winemaking tradition here goes back much much further; ancient mosaics depicting wine-loving Bacchus discovered in Ribera del Duero suggest they've been making and enjoying wine in the region for at least a couple thousand years! I guess that means they know what they're doing, right?

Here are the wines you'll want to look out for when scrolling down the wine menu over the next few months:

1. Love Sauvignon Blanc (and eating)? Try Verdejo:
More full-bodied and aromatic than Sauvignon Blanc, Verdejo is actually Spain’s most popular white grape--and with good reason! It comes from the region of Rueda in North-Central Spain, and is a lovely smooth, citrusy, and refreshing white to enjoy on hot summer days.

This food-friendly Spanish white pairs beautifully with so many of your summer faves.  It's seriously hard to go wrong with this wine.

From seafood like shrimp or cold briny oysters to grilled chicken or marinated veggies hot off the grill to that bowl of spicy salsa you can’t seem to stay away from (Don't even try. It's impossible.), the bright acidity and sharp fruity notes means it can stand up to and complement a wide variety of cuisines and dishes.

This means you can bring a bottle to your friend's BBQ or dinner party safe in the knowledge that it will probably pair perfectly with whatever they serve.

2. Do you always order Cabernet Sauvignon? Try a Tempranillo from Ribera del Duero:
I know some people prefer whites in the summer, but come night time I usually still want a glass of something red. If you're like me, give a Tempranillo from Ribera del Duero a try!

At the dinner, one of the winemakers shared a fun fact about Tempranillo. Apparently 95% of people who love Cabernet, also enjoy Tempranillo. These wines have that same boldness as a cab, but with a bit more balance making them another summer food-friendly pick.

Ribera del Duero wines are categorized by their age from Crianza (1+ year) to Reserva (2+ year) to Gran Reserva (3+ year). Older does not mean better and there's great quality wines at each age, so give them each a try and see what you prefer!

  • Perfect for Summer Dinners. Tempranillo is great with grilled meats like steak and burgers, roasted pork and lamb, and they also play nicely with a simple cheese and charcuterie board (preferably featuring manchego and jamon, of course!).
  • It's vegetarian friendly. Grilled portabellos, stewed eggplant, and rich pasta dishes are all fine matches for this wine!

3. Love Champagne? Try Rueda Espumosa:
Nothing says celebration better than bubbles, but those good-quality bubbles unfortunately often come with a hefty price tag, right? Nope! Rueda Espumosa is a high-quality, yet affordable, Spanish sparkling wine from Rueda.

Rueda Espumosa get their bubbles via the same “method traditionnelle” (or “metodo classico” in Spanish) as Champagne. It involves having the verdejo wine go through a secondary fermentation process inside the bottle, producing an elegant bubbly that is just as lovely on its own as it is paired with your summer meals.

4. Always Order Dessert...and more wine!
Your dessert may be sweet, but that doesn't mean the wine you serve or order with it also has to be! Spanish wines are a great match for so many desserts.

  • Love sweet & salty combos? Pair salty-sweet desserts like salted caramel, sea salt-topped milk chocolate, or caramel popcorn with a crispy white verdejo.
  • Tempranillo is a great match for desserts made with dark chocolate, cherries, and almonds. If you've never paired a large slice of rich chocolate cake with a glass of bold red, you've been missing out!
  • We already covered that these wines are amazing with grilled foods, and this goes for dessert, too! Try verdejo with and easy summer dessert like grilled peaches, or pair a thick slice of grilled poundcake with tempranillo! 
  • Want to turn wine into your dessert? Try poaching ripe cherries in tempranillo wine, then serving over ice cream or a simple plain cake. Or add a cup of the dry red to your favorite chocolate cake recipe.
  • And you can't go wrong with sticking to the region! A traditional caramel custard (like flan!) or even piping hot churros con chocolate will work nicely with the tempranillo as well!

5. Looking to make a great sangria? These are your new go-to sangria wines:
Sangria often gets a bad wrap due to the restaurants (or party hosts!) that use it as an excuse to disguise and mark-up their cheapest unremarkable wines with some fruit and sugar, often leaving you with a big bill and a nasty headache. But just like with anything else, when you start with great quality ingredients (aka a fabulous #sangriawine!), the final product will be just as good!

  • For Red Sangria, start with a bottle of Ribera del Duero Joven or Crianza. These young and juicy tempranillo wines are light, tart, and a great start to a summer-ready sangria. Combine with fruits like red cherries, ripe plums, and strawberries, to bring out the natural fruity notes in the wine. Tuck in a bay leaf or two and let sit overnight in the fridge. Just before serving, add a can or two of naturally-flavored orange or lemon seltzer and serve over ice. 
  • For White Sangria, get a bottle of crisp and fruity white like Rueda Verdejo. Choose fruits that complement the wine’s citrusy and peachy notes like sliced lemons, ripe peaches, and maybe even just a few cucumber slices. Add herbs like fresh basil or tarragon to bring out the natural fennel notes of the wine. I recommend combining all the ingredients the night before you serve, then letting the natural sugars in the fruit infuse the wine overnight.
And there you have it! 5 fabulous Spanish wines to help you mix things up this summer. Cheers!

This post was sponsored by Ribera y Rueda--the organization representing these two wine regions and their winemakers. They provided me with several wine bottles to try at home and compensated me for sharing these tips with you. As always, all ideas and opinions are entirely my own. Please remember to enjoy these delicious Spanish wines responsibly!

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