Ever since Ferran Adrià from El Bulli hit the scene, Spanish Food & Wine has been HOT HOT HOT- without any signs of a cool-down in the near future. Which is why I was looking forward to attending a trade seminar and tasting “The Spanish Market Now: Trends and Opportunities” presented by Karen Macneil, one of my favorite wine teachers and author of “The Wine Bible.”

The industry event, put on by the Spanish Wine Cellar & Pantry, in both San Francisco and NYC, showcased the latest food & wines from up-and-coming Spanish producers.

Rias Baixas wine region in Spain

Macneil, along with a panel of other wine experts, reported that they had never tasted so many great wines from one country and described them as wines that “underpromise and overdeliver” — often at shockingly reasonable prices (In part two, I will reveal some of Karen’s favorite picks for you to try.) Until around 15 years ago, all most Americans had experienced of Spanish wines was their rather characterless oxidized whites and tired over-oaked riojas. But that is a thing of the past.

When it comes to wine, Spain is the most exciting country in the world right now. The country is unique in that it offers “New/Old” wines, which means they have rediscovered new regions but with old vines dating back at least 80 years. Pairing these gorgeous old vines with experienced winemakers, who are open to new ideas in winemaking, is one reason why Spanish wines are reaching new heights.

And this same winning combination of nature, experience and technology can be seen in their Olive Oil. Did you know that Spain is the leading producer and exporter of EVO olive oil? Spain grows more than 260 different varieties of olives and has over 300 million olive trees! One of my favorites-just sniffing the oil had me hooked- can be found at www.olicatessen.com. Mixed with Spain’s distinctive sweet and sour Pedro Ximenez Sherry Vinegar’s, you have the perfect salad splash. www.valderramausa.com . Other delicious Spanish delicacies that were exhibited were Serrano Ham, chorizo, tapenades, olive oil packed tuna, and cheeses.

For more information see: www.spanishwinecellar.com and www.thespanishpantry.com