Tempranillo is the most well-known grape variety from Spain. It makes a range of wines and is used in many blends, most notably being the Rioja (pronounced Ree-o-ha) where it is the dominant grape of the region.

Tempranillo Cheat Sheet

A fairly neutral grape with moderate tannins, it is usually blended with other varieties like Grenache, Graciano and Carignan to make full-bodied wines in Rioja and Ribera del Duero.

The grape name is derived from the Spanish word, ‘Temprano’ which means early, since this grape variety ripens earlier than the other native Spanish varieties.

It does well in warm climates and hence is planted in Australia, Argentina and India, too. 

Known as Tinta Roriz in Portugal, it has a savoury characteristic with aromas of leather, tobacco and cherry and blackcurrant. Typically aged in oak, it takes on the coconut and vanilla flavours from the barrels.

Rioja wines are classified according to how long they are aged. In the case of red wines they are classified as :

Crianza: Wines aged for two years with one year in barrels.

Reserva: Wines aged for three years with one year in barrels.

Gran Reserva: Wines aged for five years with two years in barrels.

From light, easy, elegant Riojas to full-body, concentrated Ribera Del Duero, Tempranillo based wines wines can be enjoyed anytime and pairs well with many types of food.

Tempranillo Food Pairing

One of the rules of food and wine matching is – ‘What grows together, goes together’. This means Spanish wines go best with Spanish Tapas!

Since Tempranillo is used in blends to balance out its fruits, acidity and tannins, these wines are one of the most food-friendly wines. They go well with meat appetisers, grilled vegetarian dishes, various kinds of pasta, pizzas, barbeque and burgers, too. Some of the food pairings are :

1.Paella – This rice dish can be prepared in many ways, with seafood, with vegetables or with chicken. Rosemary, garlic and paprika used in the preparation complement the Tempranillo-based wines.

2.Coconut Curry – The cilantro, and basils match with the vegetal and savoury flavours of the wine and the coconut pairs well with the oak-aged Riojas.

3.Aged cheese – The nuttiness and bold flavours of the cheese complement the wine.

4.Mushroom and Pepper bake – The earthy flavours of the dish complement the fruity, easy-drinking young Tempranillo Grenache blends.

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