Tag Archives: wine

Living the Dream (Spanish wine and cheese edition)

During the past week, I have attended two very important events related to the products of Spain. Sure, it was a whirlwind of shaking hands, networking, learning about wines that have recently been imported to the US, and receiving the 3000+ year history of Spanish cheese production in a 2 hour class.  Despite all of the work, I am happy to report that both events were ridiculously fun.



On October 6, I attended Great Match, an event that brings Spanish winery representatives, importers, retailers, and consumers together for a day that begins with workshops and ends with tastings.  This event is unique in that it highlights ALL wine-producing regions of Spain, rather than simply continuing to market already-famous varietals and bodegas.

Blanca gave a wonderful explanation of the history of Spanish cheese production, how Sephardic culture influenced Spanish cheese production, and reasons why many Spanish cheeses are not eligible for import to the US.  Spanish cheese must be an interesting and exciting market to enter; in 1998, there were only 11 DOPs (cheese-producing regions protected by the Spanish government) and now there are 26.


Naturally, I asked Blanca where one can purchase Spanish cheeses in Chicago.  My next project: to chat with the owners of these stores and maybe even observe purchasing patterns.  I’d love to sell lesser-known cheeses (such as arzua ulloa from Galicia and gamonedo from Asturias) , but Blanca explained that many people here confuse Mexican manchego and Spanish manchego…it looks there’s some teaching to be done as well!

Gran Reserva y Mas: Spanish Wine 101

Now that you know the basics on the classifications of Spanish wine, we are ready for our next lesson: the aging of wine.  If you pick up a bottle of Spanish wine, you may notice the words “vino joven,” “crianza,” or a few others scrawled across the label.  Does it matter?  Absolutely.  By the end of this post, you’ll be speaking like a sommelier.

This Gran Reserva Rioja is from the Rioja Alavesa region.  I’ve had it on the shelf for a few years now and it should be ready to drink!

How do you prefer your wine?  Lighter and fruity, or full-bodied with lots of tannins?

Or do you care more about the region or varietal (aka the type of grapes) than the aging process?

Do you put much thought into pairing your wine based on what you’re eating?  

Leave me a comment and let me know!

DO vs. VdIT: Spanish Wine 101

DO, DOQa, DOCa, VdIT.  If you’ve ever picked up a bottle of Spanish wine, you’ve probably noticed some of those letters gracing the label.  So what exactly do these things mean?  And does it really matter?


Spanish wine laws require that designations are specified for various wine-producing regions.  So who exactly is enforcing these DO regulations?  There is a governing body, the Consejo Regulador, that is responsible for classifying and regulating the standards for winemaking.  Regulations cover all aspects of the winemaking process, including, but not limited to the amount of time aged in the barrel and the types of grapes used.  DOCa/DOQa is the highest “grade” that can be assigned to a wine – Rioja and Priorat are the only two regions that currently hold this prestigious designation.

Albarino from Rias Baixas is an example of a DO wine.


Is the designation of wine important to you when it comes to purchasing or consuming?  Is there a wine producing region that you are most partial to?  Leave me a comment and let me know!

My next post will help you understand Crianza from Vino Joven…stay tuned.