(Family Features) For a novice, simply distinguishing a wine preference – white or red, sweet or dry – may be the extent of his or her comfort level. However, a more experienced wine enthusiast knows there is an entire world to explore when it comes to discovering interesting wine styles.
For example, winemakers in the Spanish wine regions of Ribera del Duero and Rueda draw on hundreds of years of history perfecting the art of winemaking. Together, these regions produce an array of flavorful, full-bodied reds and crisp, refreshing white wines. Recently, these regions have garnered attention for their wines’ value and versatility, making them solid choices for someone looking to explore and develop his or her palate without breaking the bank.
“The wines of Ribera del Duero are generally made in a more generous, international style that would make them a natural transition for a traditional drinker of Cabernet Sauvignon,” said Brahm Callahan, master sommelier and Ribera del Duero y Rueda ambassador. “The same can be said for Rueda. The wines have bright, ripe fruit, great weight and texture, and offer an excellent alternative for someone who likes Sauvignon Blanc.”
Ribera del Duero
There are 300 wineries in Ribera del Duero, which surrounds the Duero River for 100 miles across the region. The semi-arid terrain and climate create optimal ripening conditions for the Tempranillo grapes that define the region’s wines’ distinctive character. If you like Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot, the big, rich, bold red wines of the region may be to your liking.
- For the party host: A highly rated red that is soft juicy and impressively flavorful is sure to impress guests. Encourage guests to explore beyond their go-to with a Tempranillo from Ribera del Duero.
- For the gift-giver: For a special occasion (either as a reward for yourself or someone else), the critically acclaimed Vega Sicilia Unico is a quality choice. This wine boasts the perfect proportion of fruit (plums and berries), tannins and acidity for a true splurge.
- For the casual wine drinker: A clean, bright blush rosé with notes of raspberries and strawberries is an enjoyable option throughout the day, from brunch to cocktail hour and onto the patio at twilight.
One of the hallmarks of Rueda’s refreshing white wines is versatility. With just the right amount of fruit and a refreshing finish, wines from Rueda are clean, bright and complex, yet effortlessly drinkable. The region is home to 70 wineries clustered on the plateau of Castilla y Leon at a high altitude of about 2,300-2,600 feet above sea level. The difficult growing environment, mineral-filled gravel soils and abundance of sunshine help create a crisp white wine with character.
- For the environmentalist: If organic and sustainable winemaking appeals to you, Menade Verdejo is well-known as a flavorful wine made with the environment in mind. These fifth-generation sibling winemakers are pioneers in organic viticulture with an organic certification for their winery and vineyard.
- For the bubble lover: Light bubbles are perfect alone or paired with fish and fruits, and a varietal featuring the Verdejo grape is a less common but delightful way to enjoy a little bubbly.
- For the warm weather enthusiast: A crisp, refreshing glass of an option likeVerdejo offers minerality and intense fruit flavors to unveil an intense palate with a refreshing acidity that is ideal for a hot day.
Learn more about the region and its wines at riberaruedawine.com.
Photo courtesy of Getty Images