About Ready-to-Drink Cocktails from Spain

About Ready-to-Drink Cocktails from Spain
As with many European countries, Spain produces a wide range of spirits and liqueurs, be they cream liqueurs, digestifs, gins, vodkas and fruit liqueurs, however, the most recognized spirit from Spain is brandy, especially those from Jerez zone. Aged in oak, styles vary, from one year of wood aging to the Gran Riserva, aged for a period averaging ten years; these are of exceptional quality. Brandy de Jerez is made by the Sherry houses centered around the city of Jerez de la Frontera in the southwest corner of Spain. Virtually all Brandy de Jerez; however, is made from wines produced elsewhere in Spain -- primarily from the Airen grape in La Mancha and Extremadura -- as the local Sherry grapes are too valuable to divert into Brandy production. Nowadays most of the distilling is likewise done elsewhere in Spain using column stills. It is then shipped to Jerez for aging in used Sherry casks in a solera system similar to that used for Sherry wine. A solera is a series of large casks (called butts), each holding a slightly older spirit than the previous one beside it. When brandy is drawn off (racked) from the last butt (no more than a third of the volume is removed) it is replenished with brandy drawn from the next butt in line all the way down the solera line to the first butt, where newly distilled brandy is added. This system of racking the brandy through a series of casks blends together a variety of vintages (some soleras have over 30 stages) and results in a speeding up of the maturation process. Basic Brandy de Jerez Solera must age for a minimum of six months, Reserva for one year and Gran Reserva for a minimum of three years. In practice, the best Reservas and Gran Reservas are frequently aged for 12 to 15 years. The lush, slightly sweet and fruity notes to be found in Brandy de Jerez come not only from aging in Sherry casks, but also from the judicious use of fruit-based flavor concentrates and oak essence (boise). Penedès Brandy comes from the Penedès region of Catalonia in the northeast corner of Spain near Barcelona. Modeled after the Cognacs of France and made from a mix of regional grapes and locally-grown Ugni Blanc of Cognac, it is distilled in pot stills. One of the two local producers (Torres) ages in soleras consisting of butts made from French Limousin oak, whereas the other (Mascaro) ages in the standard non-solera manner, but also in Limousin oak. The resulting Brandy is heartier than Cognac, but leaner and drier than Brandy de Jerez.

Top Picks for Spain

Ready-to-Drink Cocktails

Frissé Rosé Frizzante Sangria
88 points
Best Buy
Neon light ruby color. Sweet, confected aromas and flavors of cranberry juice cocktail, sweet lemonade, white grape and strawberry, and cotton candy with a satiny, racy, fruity sweet light body and an effortless, charming, easy finish with touches of fresh celery and tangerine finish. A light and breezy wine spritzer that is super sessionable.
88 points $10.99 Best Buy
Sol de Ibiza Sangria
84 points
Dull ruby color. Spicy, fruity aromas and flavors of spiced cherries and berries, baked plum, and hint of rice cake with a lightly tannic, shy, fruity sweet light-to-medium body and a smooth, fast finish manifesting accents of clove and cinnamon, apple skin, and chalk finish. A pleasant, easy-drinking sangria; serve on the rocks.
84 points $14.99
Kirkland Signature Sangria
84 points
Clear light ruby color. Unusual, umami aromas of over steamed rice, cherry pits, berry candle, and floral talc with a lean, shy, dryish thin body and a tingling, short balsa, berry water, and parchment finish.
84 points $6.99