Understanding the classifications of Spanish wines

Sourced from the world’s leading wine exporter, Spanish wine is known for its premium quality and exquisite flavor. Not surprisingly, it is the most popular wine according to the latest international export figures.

But despite its popularity, not all Spanish wine lovers know the proper classifications. Ratings for Spanish wines are strictly followed by vineyards or regions. Having that knowledge will give you an advantage as a consumer because not all Spanish wine exporters follow these regulations and you could end up paying more for cheap wine.

Here’s a simple guide to help you classify the Spanish wine you love.

DOC or Qualified Denomination of Origin

Wines under DOC are considered the most premium quality in the region since it is the strictest Spanish wine classification. Only the designated regions of Rioja in 1991, followed by Priorat in 2003 and Ribera del Duero in 2008 have the title of DOC to date.

Payment Wine (VP)

This classification is intended for individual single-family homes with an international reputation and, to date, there are only 14 farms in Spain that have this category.

Appellation of origin

DO System was organized in 1932 and is a classification similar to the Denominazione d’Origine Protetta (DOP) of Italy, the Denomination of Protected Origin (AOP) of France and the Denominação de Origem Controlada (DOC) of Portugal.

The DO wines represent high quality wines from more than 80 Spanish wine regions and are considered the mainstay of Spain’s quality control system.

Each region has its own designated Regulatory Council that decides the limits, permits, maximum yields, alcohol content limitations and other limitations of the quality standards production area.

Quality Wine Produced in a Determined Region (VCPRD)

Proposed in 2005, this ranking is considered the stepping stone toward achieving OD status.

VdlT Sp. Wines of the Earth

Also known as wines of the country or wine of the land, this level is similar to the Vin de pays system of France.

Table Wine (VdM)

All vineyards and unsorted grapes fall under this designation and generally refer to the majority of the country’s table wines.

Spanish wine aging classification

In addition to classifying regions and vineyards, Spanish wines are also classified according to their aging time. Applied primarily to red wines, each region may have its own classification, but it is generally as follows:

Young or Harvest

This means young and minimal aging is not required. Most of the wines are bottled directly to age, it is no longer necessary for barrel aging.

A Joven wine is known for its fresh fruity taste and is best for immediate consumption.


Aging means aging and requires a minimum of 12 months in the barrel and another 12 months in the bottle. However, aging requirements still depend on regions. These wines are quite complex, they smell like oak and have soft tannins.


Reserve wines are those aged for more than 12 months, which is why the term “reserve” was coined. Although they are not followed by most regions, Reserva wines are followed by the best vineyards and regions such as Rioja.

However, this term is sometimes used for a marketing strategy, so you should buy only from Spanish wine exporters from reputable wine producers.

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