by Annie Bennett, The Daily Telegraph, January 3, 2017
Planning a holiday to Spain ? Read how to book the best Spanish food and wine holiday, with advice on gourmet tours, our experts' favourite vineyards, markets and cookery courses, as well as the best tour operators. By Telegraph Travel's Spain experts.
Many of us are now popping chorizo and ibérico ham into our shopping baskets, as well as manchego cheese and, of course, a bottle of Spanish wine. You could spend a very happy holiday indeed exploring the regions where your favourite foods and wines are produced.
The best hams, for example, are made in the west of the country, in Salamanca, Extremadura and the Sierra de Aracena in the north of Andalusía . Every region has its specialities. Around 40 artisan cheeses are produced in Asturias, while you could spend a fortnight in Galicia eating a different sort of seafood every day.
Have a look at the organisation Tasting Spain ( tastingspain.es ) for lots of ideas for foodie breaks - you can book handy packages including accommodation, restaurant reservations and all sorts of gourmet experiences.
Scroll down for a list of tour operators offering food and wine holidays to Spain
Spain has 69 officially-recognised wine production regions spread across the country, and visiting wineries is an excellent way of discovering little-known parts. La Rioja, the most famous wine area, is also worth visiting for its food and spectacular countryside. The wines of Navarre, Aragón, Castilla León and Galicia deserve to be better known, and are wonderful regions to explore for their history and culture too. If you are on holiday in the Balearics or Canaries, there are some interesting wines being produced there too. See Wine Routes of Spain ( en.wineroutesofspain.com ) if you fancy setting up your own wine tour.
But it is sherry that is really having a bit of a moment after years of gathering sticky dust at the back of cupboards. We are finally learning that there are lots of different kinds - and that it is very reasonably priced too. If you need any more of an excuse to visit elegant Jérez, it was European City of Wine in 2014 and hosts an International Sherry Week each year. Annie Bennett
Tour operators offering food and wine holidays in Spain
Annie B's Spanish Kitchen (00 34 620 560 649; anniebspain.com ) Well-reviewed cookery school in lovely Andalusian pueblo blanco of Vejer de la Frontera; also sherry tasting.
A Taste of Spain (00 34 856 079 626; atasteofspain.com ) Private cookery classes, tapas crawls and tours focused on regions (Basque Country, Catalonia, Andalusia, La Mancha, Galicia) and products (ham, cheese, seafood, and so on).
Gourmet on Tour (020 7558 8796; gourmetontour.com ) Private tours include tapas-bar hopping in Seville, cookery in Barcelona, and cookery and pinxtos-bar crawling in San Sebastian.
Spanish Thyme Traveller (00 34 96 225 4148; thespanishthymetraveller.com ) Foodie breaks that sometimes span culture and walking; options include focusing on paella and cava in Valencia, and ham in Teruel.
Glass half full: taste the delicious wines of La Rioja - and some lesser known regions - on a wine tour of Spain.
Arblaster & Clarke (01730 263111; winetours.co.uk ) A Rioja vineyards walking tour; private group sherry tours in Andalusia can also be arranged.
Grape Escapes (0845 643 0860; grapeescapes.net ) Options include flexible short breaks to La Rioja region.
Smooth Red (020 8877 4940; smoothred.co.uk ) Tailor-made trips to the Rioja and Ribera del Duero regions.
The following cultural and activity specialists also offer food- and drink-themed breaks to Spain:
Christopher Pollard Tours (01823286097; christopherpollardtours.com ) Guided, gastronomic break in Madrid, and a tour of Spain's Mediterranean winelands.
Exodus (0845 508 4195; exodus.co.uk ) Cycling and wine-tasting guided tour through the Rioja region.
Explore (01252 883694; explore.co.uk ) Interesting walking and wine-tasting tours: one taking in the Basque Country, La Rioja and Catalonia, another combining the Spanish Ribera del Duero and Portuguese Duoro regions.
HF Holidays (0345 470 8558; hfholidays.co.uk ) Breaks combining cooking and walking in Andalusia and in the Picos de Europa.
Inntravel (01653 617000; inntravel.co.uk ) The specialist in independent walking/cycling breaks makes a point of selecting hotels that offering good food. Spanish walking holidays include Gastronomic Trails in Catalonia, and Gastronomic Garrotxa.
Intrepid Travel (0808 274 5111; intrepidtravel.com ) A guided Real Food Adventure - Northern Spain tour, taking in San Sebastian, the Rioja region and Barcelona.
Martin Randall Travel (020 8742 3355; martinrandall.com ) Upmarket guided gastronomic/cultural breaks, with tapas tours, tastings and gourmet meals, of Andalusia, Catalonia and the Basque Country.
Saga Holidays (0800 096 0074; travel.saga.co.uk ) Tastes and Flavours of Spain tour, through Castile, La Rioja, Aragon and Catalonia.
Tour operator listings by Fred Mawer
This article was written by Annie Bennett, from The Daily Telegraph and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.