Spanish Wine Terms

Amontillado

Is an aged fino. After the flor (see listing below) dies or is killed of by an extra addition of spirit, and then aged for a few years, the resulting fino is known as an amontillado. Most are dry, although some brands bottle them with a touch of sweetness.

Añejo

Is any wine labeled as “Vino” or “Vino de la Tiera” that has been aged a minimum of 24 months in oak barrels.

Bodega

A generic term meaning winery, but sometimes applied to wine shops or cellars outside of Spain.

Cava

Sparkling wines made in the classic method (that used to make Champagne), usually labeled as “método tradicional” or “método clásico”. Cava must spend a minimum of nine months on the lees.

Cosecha

Harvest or vintage.

Crianza

Any DO or DOC red wine that has ben aged a minimum of 24 months, with at least six months in barrel. In the regions of Navarra, Rioja, and Ribera del Duero, that minimum barrel time is one year. All white crianza wines must be aged for one year, with at least six months in barrel.

Fino

A light, dry, aperitif-style Sherry, typically fortified to around 15% alcohol.

Flor

The beneficial yeast film that forms on the wine’s surface inside a barrel of fino-style Sherry.

Fino

Sweet wine with 16 to 18% alcohol made of Monastrell grapes from the Levante region.

Fondillón

A light, dry, aperitif-style Sherry, typically fortified to around 15% alcohol.

Gran Reserva

Any DO or DOC red wine that has been aged a minimum of five years, with at least one and a half years in barrel. In the regions of Navarra, Rioja, and Ribera del Duero, that minimum barrel time is two years. White wines must be four years old, with at least six months in barrel. With Cava, any Gran Reserva has spent at least thirty months on the lees.

Joven

A term potentially applied to any DO or DOC wine; typically the wine spends little or no time in oak and is sold as a fresh and fruity wine.

Manzanilla

A light, dry, delicate, aperitif-style Sherry. If a Fino Sherry is aged in the windy, coastal town of Sanlúcar de Barrameda, it is called Manzanilla to differentiate it from other, less delicate fino Sherries.

Noble

Any wine labeled as “Vino” or “Vino de la Tiera” that has been aged a minimum of 18 months in oak barrels.

Oloroso

A type of Sherry that is naturally dry but is often blended with Pedro Ximénez (PX) or other sweetening agents to produce a powerfully sweet style.

Orujo

The Spanish form of grappa or marc, a distillate made from grape pomace.

Pago or DO Pago

A classification of high quality, single estate wines. All grape growing, vinification, and bottling must take place on the estate, or Pago.

Palo Cortado

A rare type of Sherry, usually completely dry, which lies between an amontillado and an oloroso.

Rancio

A high-intensity wine with distinct oxidative flavors and usually with more than 16 percent alcohol.

Reserva

Any DO or DOC red wine that has been aged a minimum of 36 months, with at least one year in barrel. White wines must be two years old, with six months in barrel.

Roble

Literally “oak,” but this term can appear upon a label, most often, of a Joven wine; it informs the buyer that the wine has spent at least a little time in barrel.

Rosado

Rosé or pink wine made from red grapes fermented with little or no time on their color-laden skins; hence the wine is pink or rosé in color.

Solera

A dynamic aging process, practiced in Jerez and Montilla-Moriles, whereby younger and older wines are aged and blended together in a prescribed manner.

Vendimia

Harvest or vintage.

Viejo

Any wine labeled as “Vino” or “Vino de la Tierra” that has been aged a minimum of 36 months in barrel and shows an “oxidative” character.

VOS

“Vinum optimum signatum” or “very old Sherry” is a Sherry term used to guarantee that the wine has an average minimum age of 20 years. That long time in oak causes a high degree of evaporation, so the VOS designation suggests that the wine is expensive to produce.

VORS

“Vinum optimum rarum signatum” or “very old rare Sherry” is a new Sherry term used to guarantee that the wine has an average minimum age of 30 years. That long time in oak causes a high degree of evaporation, so the VORS designation suggests that the wine is very expensive to produce. These wines are bottled in very limited quantities.

It could be argued that Spain is a viticultural mirade. After years on the sidelines of the world of fine wine, it is now a major player.

Jancis Robinson

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