07/05/2022 15 Bodegas Editorial Team
First of September 2023
Understanding the difference between Crianza and reserve is essential if you like wine. It is all about choosing the right wine for the plans you have in mind. By knowing what sets them apart, choosing a perfect wine pairing is easier and you can avoid mistakes that could spoil a good meal.
A Crianza wine is the one that has undergone a maturation and ageing process before being bottled and sold. During this period, the wine develops and acquires specific characteristics that distinguish it from young wines.
Crianza wine is storage in oak barrels or stainless-steel tanks for a certain period of time. As time goes by, the wine interacts with the wood or other materials, acquiring flavours, aromas and a more complex structure.
The amount of time it is aged varies according to the type of wine and area in which the wine is produced. For example, red wines need more time than white wines or rosé wines. In addition, the regulations of each Designation of Origin establish specific requirements that affect their territory. However, generally, it counts as a Crianza wine when it´s aged for 18 months.
This process results in a more complex wine with the capacity to mature in the bottle. This variety exhibits notes of ripe fruit, spices, toast and tertiary notes such as leather or tobacco. At the same time, it is a more balanced and refined product than a younger one that has not had as much time to mature.
A reserve wine is one that has undergone a long and meticulous maturation process of at least 36 months. This is achieved through ageing in oak barrels and sometimes in the bottle itself or a combination of both processes. The main objective is to achieve the best form of the product and for it to develop extraordinary complexity.
When the wine is aged for a long time in oak barrels, it acquires a number of unique qualities. Interacting with the wood adds aromas and flavours to the final sensory structure, which stands out for its complexity. In addition, the slow, controlled oxidation process helps to soften the tannins and provide a silkier texture.
As for the duration of this process, it varies according to the winemaker's criteria and the style of wine they wish to achieve. In some cases, they must mature for several years in a barrel and additional time in a bottle for being considered reserve wine. Doing so is common practice in recognised wine regions and under strict regulations that ensure a high final quality.
The result is a wine with a sophisticated profile and the capacity to improve over time. Reserve wines tend to exhibit an intense aroma with complex notes of ripe fruits, spices, vanilla and earthy nuances. They are balanced wines with an elegant structure and a long finish.
A great reserve wine is a reserve wine of exceptional quality that has undergone an even longer process. As in the previous case, there is no specific time frame, as it depends on the Designation of Origin. Therefore, the requirements are not the same, but to give you an idea, the ageing period is up to five years which 18 months of them must be in oak barrels and the rest of time is in bottle for a red wine.
Likewise, the highest quality grapes are selected from each harvest to achieve the best result. All this work creates a unique product that is highly appreciated by the public. The wineries must put all their passion, knowledge and art into the entire production process of a grand reserve. As a result, they gain the approval of enthusiasts and increase their prestige as producers.
So, Which wine is better Crianza or reserve? As you have seen, each type has specific characteristics. Of all the differences, the most important is the time allocated to ageing the wine. This is the key to developing the body, structure and other essential aspects that need to be achieved. They will emerge gradually as the wine changes.
Crianza wines need the least time, followed by Reserva and Gran Reserva. They must also meet specific criteria during the production process. For example, the Crianza wine is aged in the barrel, without having to put the liquid in a bottle. However, bear in mind that changes may occur depending on the way a particular Denomination of Origin is produced.
Another difference is the final profile of the wine. The key lies in the complexity that the flavour and aroma will acquire. The longer the ageing period, the more intricate the combination of notes and other elements will be. If you were to try one product from each category, you would notice how the intensity changes. On this basis, a Crianza wine is less complex than a reserve wine, and a reserve wine is less complex than a grand reserve wine.
When it comes to reserve and grand reserve, they do not need to be produced every year. The quality of the grape varieties in a particular year may not be up to standard. In which case it would not be worth the effort, as the wine would not meet the demands of such high-category products. What’s more, you can see whether these varieties have been produced to assess whether the harvests were good or not.
By knowing the difference between Crianza and reserve, you can better appreciate the characteristics of each type and choose a Crianza or Reserve depending on the occasion. Both time and the complexity of flavours and aromas mark a separation that is insurmountable, although it does not make one superior to the other. To enjoy the best wines, explore the wide selection offered by 15bodegas. Discover ours online wine store!