The world's second-largest producer, Spain has been better known for the high volume rather than the high quality of wine it produces. This is changing - international wine critic Robert Parker has pointed to Spain as a rising star with innovative wines. For the wine lover, Spain still provides good quality and value for money. For those looking for alternatives to international grape varieties there is plenty of opportunity for discovery.
Regions include: Penedes
For a lower priced alternative to champagne, try cava made by the traditional method with secondary fermentation in the bottle. Grapes used are a blend of macabeo, parellada and xarello.
Many of the region's wines offer good value for money with wines made from garnacha and tempranillo grapes. Slightly more rustic in style compared to wines from Ribera del Duero.
Another extremely dry, arid region. The main red variety is the garnacha which does well in drought-like conditions. Wines are rich and dense with savoury notes. Compare a Priorat wine with a Chateauneuf du Pape from the Southern Rhone Valley for a comparative tasting.
In the northwestern region, the main white variety is the albarino. These are refreshing, vibrant, apricot-flavoured, floral wines with little oak influence. Try an albarino when you tire of sauvignon blanc.
Ribera del Duero
Tempranillo-based wines are winning praise for their high quality and smart winemaking, and are tough competition for Bordeaux in price and quality. This region is known for its superstar winemakers and experimental winemaking.
Red wines are made from the tempranillo grape. These wines can be drunk young but are also suitable for long-term cellaring. Flavours are reminiscent of red berry and vanilla from the American oak used for maturation. White wines are made from viura (the local name for macabeo), and can be wonderfully creamy with nutty overtones.
An upcoming area producing tempranillo and garnacha. The region is extremely arid and vines have not succumbed to many vine pests and diseases. There are still vines more than 100 years old producing highly concentrated wines. Even luxury brand owner LVMH owns a vineyard in this region.