Your Wine IQ


International Varieties: Chardonnay   Gewürztraminer   Muscat   Pinot Gris   Riesling   Sauvignon Blanc

Major Varieties:   Airén    Chenin Blanc    Grüner Veltliner    Müller-Thurgau    Pinot Blanc    Sémillon    Silvaner    Trebbiano    Viognier

Regional Varieties:   Albariño    Aligoté    Amigne    Arneis    Chasselas    Colombard    Cortese    Fiano    Grechetto    Grenache Blanc    Malvasia Istriana    Marsanne    Muscadelle    Muscat of Alexandria    Ortega    Palomino    Parellada    Petite Arvine    Prosecco    Rieslaner    Roussanne    Savagnin    Scheurebe    Seyval Blanc    Tocai Friulano    Torrontés    Vermentino    Welschriesling


An Airén vine in Madrid.
Photo by BodegasAmbite on Wikipedia.
License: Creative Commons SA 3.0 Unported.

For its influence in the wine world, Spanish wine grape Airén would generally deserve only a small mention in our "regional varieties" division. After all, it is only found in Spain. But a technicality qualifies it to join the major varieties section: it is the world's most planted white wine grape! This, however, needs some qualification. At 706,000 acres of planted surface, the wine beats out its competitors, although it lacks such high standing in terms of number of vines planted.

Airén's high standing is only of slight importance, as most of the wines made from it are unacclaimed. The large numbers of plantings are also in rapid decline as the world wine market shifts interest to red wine. Airén is a tough grape; the true best use is probably in Spanish brandy. Originating sometime in the 17th century, Airén has a long history of production in all kinds of alcoholic beverages.

As far as wine goes, though, fine Airén wines are hard to come by. It is allowed in the DOs Alicante, Bullas, Jumilla, and Vinos de Madrid, but is not usually included in them. Airén is mainly used in the wines of La Mancha and Valdepeñas. The city of Madrid has many plantings, most of them for table wines.