Spanish Wine is often over looked, but truth be told, Spain offers some great values on both reds and whites. Sometimes it's hard to navigate a region you're not familiar with, but hopefully learning this word will make it a little easier.
One of the Spanish practices is to age the wine before it's released for sale. The benefit to this is that the wine is ready for drinking when it hits the shelf. No aeration needed. No wondering if you're going to have tannins that are as soft as 60 grit sand paper. And to help us all out, the Spaniards have created a labeling system to help us understand the age of the wine in the bottle. This is where the word Crianza comes in.
Crianza helps us understand how long the wine has been aged. It's used in a few ways on the label and when you understand this, you'll understand what's in the bottle. So here goes. . .
Sin Crianza or Vino Joven: Sin Crianza literally means "without aging". Vino Joven literally means "young wine". These are wines that are not matured in oak or other wood barrels and are designed for early consumption.
Crianza means aged and when you see this on a label you know that the wine has been matured at the winery for at least 2 years and at least 1 year in oak barrels.
Reservas are produced in good years, matured in the winery for at least 3 years and at least 1 year in oak.
Gran Reservas are only made from the finest fruit and only in the finest years. These are matured at the winery for 5 years and must be matured on oak for at least 2 years.
So there you have it. These labels are most likely seen on red wines from Spain (I don't think I've ever seen a white wine labeled this way as whites are most likely to be consumed right away).
Check out the Spanish aisle and look for these labels. There are great wines and values to be had here!