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SPAIN

Spain, the third largest wine-producing country in the world, often remains in the shadows of neighboring France and Italy or more exotic wine destinations like Argentina and Australia. However, Spanish vintners are known for their exceptional production of Tempranillo and Cava wines.

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One can witness the profound influence of Spanish artists across the Iberian Peninsula throughout the centuries. A must-visit for art enthusiasts is the renowned Golden Triangle of Art in Madrid, encompassing a two-mile stretch of museums. Here, you'll discover the prestigious Prado Museum, housing classical works dating back to the 12th century, primarily showcasing Spanish artists such as Goya, Eduardo Rosales, and Diego Velázquez.

For a more contemporary art experience, the Reina Sofía Museum is a treasure trove of 20th-century masterpieces by Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dali. The Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum complements the collection with Spanish classics and modern works, as well as an extensive array of international classics, including pieces by Monet, Van Gogh, and Renoir.

Barcelona stands out as an extraordinary city for both art and architecture, largely shaped by the renowned architect Antoni Gaudí. His iconic designs include La Sagrada Família, Casa Milà, Park Güell, and Casa Battló.

A short drive from Barcelona leads to the Penedés wine region, home to more than 100 wineries. This region predominantly cultivates white grapes, yielding exceptional Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, and Muscat wines. However, Penedés is most renowned for its unparalleled sparkling wine, known as Cava.

Cava is primarily made from the Macabeu grape, which imparts a delicate floral aroma, a lemon-lime flavor profile, and a subtly bitter finish. Xarel-lo and Parellada grapes are blended to produce a fruity sparkling wine reminiscent of champagne. Exploring vineyards and indulging in wine tastings in Penedés is a delightful experience, with vintners offering personalized tastings tailored to your preferences, while also educating guests on wonderful wine pairings.

The Basque Country in northern Spain is the most commonly associated region with Spanish wine, particularly the Tempranillo grape, while Garnacha, Carignan, and Verdejo grapes also enjoy popularity. The red wines from this region are distinguished by their ripe berry fruit aromas with hints of chocolate.

An ideal day in Basque Country could include a morning visit to the renowned Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, followed by an afternoon vineyard tour in the La Rioja region, and an evening of pintxos (similar to tapas) in San Sebastián. The Guggenheim Museum, famous for its remarkable architecture since its opening in 1997, is equally celebrated for its impressive collections.

With over 500 wineries in La Rioja, it's impossible to explore them all. However, by spending the night hopping from one gourmet pintxo bar to another in San Sebastián, you can savor wines from a few of the vineyards you might have missed during the day. La Rioja is particularly renowned for its extraordinary full-bodied red wines.

Andalusia, a region known for its stunning architecture, houses notable landmarks such as the Alhambra and the Royal Alcázar, built by the Moors.  The Christians recaptured Seville in the 13th century.  It is in this region that golden sherry, an unparalleled fortified wine, is produced and cherished worldwide.

Spain's rich culture provides an ideal vacation setting for those seeking relaxation and tranquility. At the same time, the vibrant cities of Barcelona and Madrid offer endless opportunities for exploration and adventure. With its diverse offerings, Spain ensures that every traveler can find a style that suits their needs and desires.

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