Wines from Spain recently sat down with Krystin Arneson, a travel and culture writer based in Berlin who writes and edits for Glamour, Conde Nast Traveler, Marie Claire, and numerous other prestigious publications. From chilling reds for summer to discovering new DO’s, Krystin shares her insider tips on the best ways to experience the magic of Spanish wine.
Krystin, you have an impressive resume! How did you get your start in journalism, and what specifically drew you to writing about the intersection of wine, travel, and culture?
I honestly tried everything I could to avoid writing as a career, but somehow always kept coming back to it. It started with an internship at Glamour and kind of grew from there—as I got older, I was drawn to the freedom it offered of choosing where I wanted to live and how I work. As far as wine, travel, and culture, that intersection is one I’m just at the fringes of now, but it combines three of the things I’m most passionate about—and they do say to write about what you love. I’m excited to dive far more deeply into it.
What are some emerging trends in lifestyle and wine that you’re covering right now?
My writing focuses less on trends and more on showing people different, accessible ways that they can enjoy wine. Red in the summer? Yes, go for it—throw it in the fridge (within reason!)! Cava with food and still wine on its own? Absolutely—and that’s backed up by Cordoniu’s head winemaker. Living in Europe has changed how I approach and enjoy wine, and I want to bring those insights to my readers.
You recently got back from a trip through some of Spain’s rising DO’s—Valencia, Alicante, and Jumilla. What surprised or inspired you the most on your travels?
One of the things I took away from my recent trips to Spain is that the winemakers there work so closely with the soil that, many times, it’s organic in all but certification. Speaking with all the different winemakers, who each had different approaches to winemaking—from being super-analytical and scientific to just rolling with how they felt the grapes were growing—taught me that there’s only two constants in the whole process: grapes and passion. The rest? Sure, it makes a difference, but it is that there’s no “right way.” The marathon two-week trip really reinforced that winemaking is both an art and a science, and that’s what I love so much about learning about it.
Any favorite new bottle or varietal you discovered that you can’t stop drinking or telling friends about?
As someone who is a devout ABCer, I was very pleasantly surprised during the trip by the blends of Chardonnay we tried with other grapes, like macabeo. Also, anything by Pepe Mendoza or his father’s label, Bodegas Enrique Mendoza (which he now runs). I’m obsessed with him and the absolute passion he brings to his life’s work, and I definitely cried over how good a few of his wines were. You can really taste a portrait of the land they’re grown on, especially those under the Pepe Mendoza label: the sun, the soil, the lavender growing nearby. I think several of us offered to marry into his family on the trip.
Where should wine lovers be looking to discover their next favorite Spanish wine?
Options aren’t just Rioja and Tempranillo—look to small growers in Alicante, Yecla, Jumilla, Valencia, and Priorat for unexpected, surprising wines at excellent values.
A lot of drinkers shy away from red wines during the warmer months. What are some insider tips for choosing the right red for a hot summer day?
If you’re truly going in blind, think of hot areas of the world, and then pick a red wine grown from one of them—people living there aren’t going to want to drink a red in the summer that makes them feel gross, either. I’d go with something juicier and vibrant versus something so dry it’s going to strip your mouth of moisture. Post-trip, that for me has been a garnacha (which also refrigerates well), preferably blended with a bit of syrah—and it tastes delicious with most things. Or there’s monastrell—done right, it’s basically like drinking a juicy blackberry pie, the kind that’s going to stain your fingers and shirt but be so delicious you don’t care.
Last—and favorite—question: You’re stranded on a desert island. You have only one case of Spanish wine to keep you company until the rescue party comes (or not. . . so choose wisely). What would you pick?
Pepe Mendoza’s Sero-roSé Monastrell Clásico 2016, only because I’d want to keep his merseguera-moscatel blend cooler than I’d be able to. My tipsy notes from the tasting (spitting would have been sacrilege) say simply, “this wine will transform you.”