The Buyer
How Wines from Spain continues to innovate and excite buyers

How Wines from Spain continues to innovate and excite buyers

From the revolution in styles coming out of Rioja and Ribera del Duero, to the rebirth of Cava on the UK sparkling scene or the stunning natural wines emerging from around Valencia, Spain is giving us so many reasons to be excited right now. So the eagerly-anticipated Wines from Spain tastings, with editions in both London and Leeds, offered the perfect opportunity to kick off 2023’s promotional activity for the team from Foods and Wines from Spain. The Buyer’s Mike Turner caught up with assistant director, Marianne Rodríguez, to see how the events had gone, from their perspective, and what else is in store this year for fans of the wonderful world of Spanish gastronomy.

Mike Turner
14th April 2023by Mike Turner
posted in Insight,

“We really feel the wine market of Spain is at the sweet spot of infusing tradition with modern ideas and techniques,” says Rodríguez.

Marianne Rodriguez, Foods and Wines from Spain

Marianne, how were the overall numbers for 2023’s tastings?

We were very happy with attendance. London was 30% up on 2022, which itself was a great year. 2023 really beat all our expectations with just over 600 people in attendance across the day.

The London event showcased over 900 wines from over 250 producers, with many producers making the trip over from Spain to be there in person. We had 33 different importers tables and had a special section for 20 producers that were seeking representation in the UK. No matter which angle people (were seeking) when they arrived, there were great wines and good business to be had for all.

An especially pleasing aspect for us, as organisers, was that the initial feedback from exhibitors and producers who made the trip has been very positive. They were very happy with the level and quality attending, with some really interesting people coming along on the day. Overall feedback from visitors was also very good, (they) loved both the range on offer, but also the enthusiasm from those behind the tables that were so happy to promote both their great wines and Spain itself.

A traditional pergola system in Rías Baixas

What were the main themes you were keen to promote to the attendees in 2023?

The message year-on-year is very similar. The event is there to promote all that’s exciting about Spain and what’s going on across the regions. From classic wines, the intrinsic qualities of Spanish food and wine, and also the changing styles and increasing quality in producers’ portfolios.

Something I always like to see is the increasing confidence in indigenous varietals. Even for us here at Wines from Spain, it feels like every year there are new varieties that we’re just coming across. But that’s not to say we’re not also blessed with a great range of styles, both brand new and classic, for the famous grape varieties. It’s a very fortunate position to be in as a marketing board. As you move around the country we’re seeing fabulous old vine Garnacha coming out of the Rioja Oriental, whilst also fresh and vibrant Garnacha from the Sierra de Gredos range near Madrid. Tempranillo, too, is increasingly wide in range and style … as we move from Tinto Fino in Ribera del Duero along to Tinto de Toro nearer the Portuguese border in Toro.

Spain can point to some of the oldest of winemaking traditions. This gives us a great background, and a base for producers and winemakers to constantly reinvent what they’re doing and how they’re doing it. We really feel the wine market of Spain is at the sweet spot of infusing tradition with modern ideas and techniques.

I can’t finish this answer without a nod to the wonderful food of Spain, which we also proudly promote from this office. Spain has a great gastronomic link with the wines across all the varied regions, all with proud culinary traditions where the wines and the food have usually grown up together and it’s important to show how incredible these pairings are.

Old vine Garnacha in Rioja Oriental

You had a range of masterclasses throughout the days. How were the topics decided?

It was slightly different for the London event than for the one in Leeds. In London, we offered regional bodies from across Spain to come along and put a spotlight on their products. This year Campo de Borja DO presented their Garnachas Historicas project, and the Beers of Spain board showcased some of the best craft beers from Spain. We were really pleased with the mix, giving what we felt was a range of fun, interesting and new areas for attendees to learn about.

For the Leeds masterclasses, we were delighted to welcome Christine Austin and Sarah Jane Evans MW to present to the attendees. In both cases we asked them to pick a topic that was currently exciting them about what was happening in the world of Spanish wine. The wines they showed were from the exhibitor list of course, but otherwise it was all from them and we were delighted with what they came up with. Christine was right on point with her ‘Spanish Sparks’ talk about the indigenous varieties making a name for themselves, and Sarah Jane’s ‘Back to the Future’ tasting highlighted the ability of the famous regions of Spain to reinvent themselves for new audiences. We had great feedback for both.

We also had great feedback from our digital masterclasses in the lead up to the physical tastings (including one in partnership with The Buyer). They were all about getting out to both the on and off trades to discuss what’s new and exciting to liven up wine lists and independents’ shelves.

Cutting edge architecture at Bodegas Portia, Ribera del Duero

It was great to see a showcase held in Leeds as well as in London, what was the thinking behind that?

This was our second year of running a non-London tasting, with the first being in Glasgow last June. The idea has always been to broaden the appeal of Spanish Wines throughout the UK. As much as these are smaller events, there’s still just over 200 wines for visitors to try their way through, so we felt confident it would be a very worthwhile event for people to come to.

As this was only our second year of running regional tastings, we were unsure of what the response would be. Like the London event, however, so many visitors and exhibitors were so positive in their feedback. It was great to hear of people travelling from all across the North and Midlands to be in attendance. It far surpassed our target of number of attendees (and) also included quite a few buyers from around the area. We really have seen a huge benefit from taking the event to other cities over the past two years.

We’re very fortunate in our ongoing relationship with the fabulous Ibérica group. Their venue in Leeds is a special building, very beautifully designed. We felt this was a big draw for people to attend and the food on offer undoubtedly helped the wines to shine on the day.

Jiachen Lu and Gail Ge’er Li of Dinings restaurant in Knightsbridge

What’s next for Wines from Spain in the UK?

Well, at this stage it’s important to remind everyone that we operate as Foods and Wines from Spain, so we cover the amazing and diverse range of food coming out of Spain as well as the wine. Many of our upcoming events and promotions are there to highlight the symbiosis of the two together.

We’re looking forward to this year’s investiture to the Gran Orden de Caballeros del Vino. This is a great event and allows us to celebrate those professionals that have continually been at the forefront of promoting Spanish wine and culture in the UK.

We’re also well into the throws of planning Eat Spain, Drink Spain for the end of summer this year. (As with 2022), this will, once again, be an event to make the most of the link between food and wine in Spanish culture, whilst also shining a spotlight on both restaurants and retailers in the UK doing great things with Spanish produce. There will be educational and digital tools available throughout the campaign to help with sales and planned events.

Finally, for all you Sherry lovers, we have the fabulous Copa Jerez Competition which is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. The international final will be held in October with eight teams from across the globe, including our own UK team of Jiachen Lu and Gail Ge’er Li of Dinings restaurant in Knightsbridge. They will be travelling to Jerez to present their dishes and Sherry matches. We’ll be promoting all of these fabulous pairings alongside launching a digital communications campaign for the wines of Jerez later in the year, to highlight the versatility of these amazing wines.

Marianne Rodríguez is the Assistant Director of Foods and wines of Spain, a department of the Spanish government that promotes the gastronomy, wines and beers of Spain around the world. For more information, please visit their website

For more information on the promotional activities of Foods and Wines of Spain, or to join the mailing list to stay informed about all future promotions, please contact Celine Bouteiller at Otaria on

Mike Turner is a freelance writer, presenter, and educator and regular contributor for The Buyer. He also runs a wine events business, Feel Good Grapes that explores and discusses the idea of sustainability in the wine trade.