With winter upon us—and the excitement of the holiday season quickly coming into focus—Spanish wines are the ideal guest at the table.
From aperitifs to bubbles, the perfect lox bagel pairing to the ideal wine to warm you up before you shovel all that snow, wines from Spain bring comfort and connection to a much-needed holiday break.
Curious for a new recommendation, or a chance to see an old favorite in a new way? Let’s take a look at some of the country’s classic regions and wine styles sure to bring light and joy to the winter holidays.
Think sherry is hard to pair, out of style, only sweet, or all the above? Think again! This exceptionally versatile fortified wine from Spain’s sea breeze-buffeted Atlantic coast isn’t a single entity, but a variety of styles created by traditional fermentation and aging techniques—with three key grapes, Palomino, Pedro Ximénez, and Moscatel, contributing their own unique superpowers to sherry’s diversity of flavors.
For something dry, crisp, and complex to pair with salty pre-dinner snacks or serve as an aperitif, look for sherry labeled as Manzanilla—the category’s lightest, freshest style, which is floral, nutty, and briny.
Looking for a full-flavored sherry to pair with a main course? Look no further than Dry Oloroso, an oxidative, fragrant, and rounder-framed example that can stand up to sauteed mushrooms, cream-based sauces, and even roasted lamb.
And this time of year, of course, no meal is complete without dessert. Elevate your holiday baking game by pairing any and all of your cakes, pies, or cookies with super-sweet Pedro Ximénez sherry, which is made from grapes dried in the sun to concentrate their sugars—the most luxurious, decadent way to end a meal.
After a unique and challenging year like 2020, doesn’t the world deserve some bubbles? Whether popping a bottle to toast the holidays, ring in the new year, or pair throughout a special meal, Cava is one of the world’s most complex sparkling wines—and is guaranteed to spread holiday cheer both on Zoom and “IRL”. This uniquely Spanish sparkler puts an Iberian twist on the traditional method used in all of the top regions for sparkling wines, making use of native grapes Xarel·lo, Macabeo, and Parellada. From light, fresh, and mineral-driven all the way to rich, toasty, and layered, there’s an incarnation of Cava for every moment of the holiday season.
Whether pairing with lox bagels for brunch, lobster tail for an elevated holiday dinner, or manchego and Jamón Ibérico for the perfect charcuterie board combo, Albariño from Green Spain’s Rías Baixas region is the go-to for lovers of intense, mineral-driven whites. With more and more innovative styles being produced—from richer, lees-aged expressions to vibrant sparklers—there have never been so many sides of Rías Baixas Albariño to discover.
Nothing says “time-honored traditions” quite like a bottle of classic Rioja—one of Spain’s most acclaimed Tempranillo-based reds, and a wine iconic for a range of holiday dishes and festivities. Defined by its layers of red and black fruit, leather, spice, and herbal notes, this robust and distinctively Spanish red is the perfect complement to hearty cheeses, roasted meats and stews, and relaxing by the fireplace.
When the temperatures drop and the snow piles up to the window panes, the potent, full-force Garnacha- and Cariñena-based reds of Priorat keeps us warm and full of winter cheer. . . even when it’s time to shovel the driveway. These perfumed, turbocharged wines from an incomparable terroir due south of Barcelona showcase the range and complexity of Spain’s vinous offerings, with black cherry, plum, dark chocolate, licorice, and stony notes blending into a singular expression of one the country’s most sought-after sub-regions. Better yet, these wines can age and improve for decades—so stash a case in the cellar and revisit every year around the holidays, watching these wines’ subtle evolution.