The climate has much in common with the Mediterranean despite the westerly position on the Atlantic. The summers are hot and the winters are mild and wet. The most widely planted grape variety remains the Zalema. This is a troublesome grape for traditional wine-growing but ideal for making sherry-type wines because it produces a light wine which oxidises quickly. A long way behind the Zalema are the other grape varieties of Listan (local name for Palomino), Pedro Ximénez, Garrido, and Moscatel.
In recent years a fresh, fruity and dry white Spanish wine has also been made with Zalema grapes, known as vinos jovenes afrutados. Drink this Spanish wine with its distinct vegetal nose (including grass) as an aperitif if you do not like the sherry type of wine or with fish and shellfish at 46.4- 50.0°F (8-10°C).
In addition to these modern afrutados there is a second type of Spanish wine, the old-fashioned corrientes. The difference with these wines starts during harvesting. The grapes intended for afrutados are gathered earlier and these have a higher proportion of acid with lower sugar content. The grapes for corrientes are harvested much later and contain more sugar and less acid. The young wine is fortified with wine alcohol to 15.5% or 17-23%, depending on the style of Spanish wine intended.
The wines which are lower in alcohol (15.5-17%) usually acquire a film from fermentation known as the flor (meaning the bloom of the wine). This film or bloom prevents air from coming into contact with the wine so that it retains its original light colour. The Spanish wine does acquire many typical yeast aromas from the fermentation. This type of Spanish wine is dry and is also known as fino in Huelva because of the refined and delicate bouquet and taste. This name is only used locally. For export the wine must officially bear the name ondado pálido. This type of Spanish wine has undergone the solera process ( see Jerez de la Frontera and Sanlœcar de Barrameda DO entries). The characteristic aromas and taste are of yeast, slightly bitter, salty, and nutty. This is a typical aperitif (although somewhat heavier than the superb Fino of Jerez or Manzanilla de Sanlœcar de Barrameda). Drink temperature for this Spanish iwne is 46.4- 50.0°F (8-10°C). The more greatly fortified wines (17-23% alcohol), do no develop flor because the yeast cells are killed off by the greater concentration of alcohol. Because there is no protective film, the wine quickly oxidises in contact with hot, moist air and this results in the darker colouring and stronger nose. This Spanish wine is still known as oloroso or fragrant because of the sultry aromas. For export the name is restricted to ondado viejo. This type of Spanish wine is also aged by the solera method. The characteristic nose and taste for this Spanish wine is of freshly basked croissants, toast, wood, vanilla, and alcohol. Enthusiasts of this wine drink it as a winter aperitif but it is better suited for consumption after dinner, with cheese for instance or with nuts and dried fruit. You can drink this Spanish wine at 42.8-46.4°F(6-8°C) or up to room temperature if preferred.
All manner of rarities can also be discovered hereabouts such as the light sweet Pálido, very sweet ‘cream’ (usually intended for the British market) or honey sweet, powerful, and balmy 100% P.X. (Pedro Ximénez). These Spanish wines though are much overtaken by the earlier wines that form the majority of local production.