Of the Old World wine regions, Spanish wine labels are comparatively easy to understand. Some of the names may be unfamiliar, but they present much of the same information as American wine labels.
The Region: Spanish wine is organized by the “Denominacion de Origen” (DO) designation, clarifying the wine growing regions of the country. A further designation, “Denominacion de Origen Calificada” (DOCa) breaks it down even further, and usually indicates a higher quality wine. “Vino de la tierra”, “vino comarcal”, and “vino de mesa” indicate regional wines, not sourced from the quality growing regions.
Varietal (Grape): Spain grows a range of vinifera (think “noble”) grapes, along with varieties particular to the country.
The Winemaker or Wine Producer
Chateau name, Chateau Bottling: Having a long history of wine production, there are many old, established wine estates in Spain. If a wine is produced under such circumstances, they will be certain to let you know.
Reserva: Spain is one of the few places where this phrase,“Reserve” has any regulated meaning. Specifically, it means that the wine has been matured in oak barrels longer than is standard.