The Spanish legend

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What you need to know!

Spain has been turning Tempranillo into wine for more than 2000 years, and nowhere is that tradition more vibrant, more iconic of the country, than in Rioja. The settling of dust from the bullfight. The translucent, transcending, slices of Jamon Serrano. The spirit lifting, sexy waves of the flamenco guitar, and the dance. The free flowing wine, capturing the baking sun before you retire to the cool night. Rioja is Spain in a bottle, full of passion and flair. 

The most amazing thing about Rioja is just how damn luscious every single bottle is, from the standard Rioja, through the Crianza, Reserva, and Gran Reserva. At each level though, you get a wine that is full of smoky, woody flavors, like tobacco or the burning wood from a fire. A lot of the flavor is driven by Tempranillo, but some winemakers will add a bit of Grenache to instill a little more fruitiness to their wine.

Food pairings

Some rich flavors of fig, and cherry round out a wine that goes with almost anything but is best suited to Spanish fare like a good nutty manchego cheese, cured meats, or roasted meats to really stand up and enjoy it to its fullest.

Scouting tips

Spanish wines do not have quite the same resonance in the wine world as their French counterparts, and yet they are just as delicious. Rioja wines are often aged a little longer before they are released, so the wines you find on the shelf are ready to go and perfect for drinking but could age for years if you are so inclined and they will age well.

Occasion Pairings

Hot dates, when you are filled with lust for a person and could spend the night dancing as a prelude to a night of passion. Rioja is as sexy a wine as they come. Rioja is a wine for lovers, who are going to lose themselves in the wine and then lose themselves in each other

Anything else?

There are four levels of quality that highlight how good the wine is, or how much the winery thinks of the product they sent out. They are marked clearly on the label and are:

  • Rioja - Aged just a few months in oak barrels, tastes pretty ripe and fresh
  • Crianza - Spends at least a year in oak, then further aged for a few months in the bottle before being sold. Starts to take on a little more character
  • Reserva - Made from the best grapes of the harvest, aged for at least 3 years with at least one year being in oak barrels, makes for a decadent wine that is rich and powerful
  • Gran Reserva - Made from the best grapes when an exceptional growing season has been declared, kicks the ass of any other wine in the world so if you can find it snap it up