Vino File: Sip of Spain

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

Spain's wine is ripe for the picking.

Rioja is the most famous of Spain's wine-producing regions, but increasingly, other areas are making names for themselves, said Frank Slezak, wine manager at Spagio Cellars. And several are producing fruit-forward wines designed for American palates.

"Spain is going through a Renaissance of sorts," he said. "They're actually carving out more and more wine place names as we speak."

The country's classic white varietal is albarino, while reds include tempranillo, garnacha (called grenache elsewhere) and monastrell (aka mourvedre). In addition to these old-world vines, plenty of international varietals have also taken root there.

Below, find Slezak's suggestions for three Spanish bottles to sip now. -Brittany Kress

Burgans Albarino (2008)

Region: Rias Baixas

Cost: $15

Flavors: Ripe apple; crisp, clean and somewhat acidic

Pairs well with: Paella, fish or chicken

Frank Slezak's advice: "It's a very food-friendly wine. Albarinos - in the 11 years I've been doing this, we've seen more and more of them in the marketplace. They have really taken off."

Panarroz (2007)

Region: Jumilla

Cost: $11

Flavors: A blend of monastrell, garnacha and syrah that's fruit-forward and slightly spicy

Pairs well with: For casual sipping or with a big red meat dish

Frank Slezak's advice: "This is one of those wines that's really generated by the American palate. When I was in Spain a few years ago, I had a very traditional Spanish wine, and I don't think it would fly in our marketplace."

Torres Celeste (2006)

Region: Ribera del Duero

Cost: $26

Flavors: Full of blueberries and blackberries, licorice and earthiness

Pairs well with: Cheeses and richer red meats, like steak

Frank Slezak's advice: "It's labeled 'crianza,' which means it follows certain in-barrel aging standards. It's not really tannic; it's kind of refined."