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Wine Tasting in Rioja- Useful Spanish Expressions

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Rioja Wine

Planning a wine tasting excursion in Spain? Simply love the culture of wine and want to learn more? I recently traveled to Spain’s famous ‘La Rioja’ region, the capital region of Spanish wine, and while I may not consider myself a “wine-snob” (future aspiration), this short list of vocabulary got me through the weekend just fine!

Beginner Spanish Wine/ Drinking Vocabulary
Beber– to Drink
Brindar– to toast or cheers
Boedga– this is what the Spanish refer to as a winery or wine cellar. For me this was a little bit different, because there was no vineyard nearby. Simply a place where you can buy wine, taste wine and sometimes take a tour of the premises.
Cata– Wine tasting (analytical and objective)
Cosecha– harvest of the grapes, often listed on bottles with year of harvest
Degustar/Probar– Try or Taste (subjective tasting)
Dejo– Aftertaste
Resaca– Hangover – if its really bad “rasaca fatal” 😀
Uvas– grapes, the famous grape of La Rioja is called tempranillo

Questions to ask
¿Que recomienda?– What do you recommend?
¿Tiene espacio para seis personas?– Do you have room for 6?
¿Cuánto cuesta una botella?– How much is a bottle?
¿Tiene una mesa en el área de no fumar?– Do you have a table in the non-smoking section?
¿Aceptan tarjetas de crédito?– Do you accept credit cards?
¿Tiene un menú en ingles?– Do you have a menú in English?

*all are the in usted (formal) form- just in case!)

How much to order
Una botella– A bottle
Una media botella– Half bottle
Un Vaso– A glass

Types of Wine
Vino de la casa– House wine
Vino blanco– white wine
Vino tinto– red wine. (The Spanish don’t say vino rojo but instead tinto- tinted wine)
Vino de mesa– “table wine.” This wine is of a lesser quality and more for daily consumption.
Vino dulce– sweet wine
Vino seco– dry wine
Cava– natural sparkling wine

Classifications of Rioja Red Wine
The opinions on this seem to vary a bit- but here’s the basic run down.

rioja_wine chart

*To put it in the simplest terms possible- name refers to length of time aged. More time aged in oak means a higher quality wine.

Want a little more?

Joven/vino del año– this wine, commonly referred to as ‘Rioja wine,’ is literally young wine or wine from the current year. These wines are usually the best when enjoyed within the first 6 months on the market and have a soft and fruity taste. With little to no oak barrel aging, they range from one to two years (maximum) old and are the cheapest of the bunch!

Crianza– The oak aging time of the Crianza is a minimum of one year, with a few months to a year in bottle. This wine has a light oak taste, but it is not too prominent. Basically a Crianza is your well-valued, upper-scale daily drinking wine, perfect for tapas hopping and casual conversation.

Reserva– Reservas are red wines with a minimum aging period of three years. They spend at least one of these years in oak barrels, following with at least two in the bottle. Most wine lovers declare Reservas the perfect Riojas- not too fruity, not too oakey, but just right.

Gran Reserva– While the aging process for the Gran Reserva is a minimum of 5 years, it is important not to rush the perfection of these superior Rioja wines. These deeply oakey ‘vintage’ wines are made with the best grapes and aged as long as the winemaker perceives is needed in both oak and in bottle.

Happy Tasting!!!
Any wine snobs out there with something to add?! 😀

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