When it comes to European wine regions, France and Italy hog all of the spotlight. However, Spain has been producing quality wine for the past 700 years, too. The Iberian peninsula's most popular wine making appellation is the Rioja. Situated just below the Pais Vasco in the central Northeast of Spain, Rioja is known for one grape in particular, Tempranillo. Over 90 percent of the wine produced in Rioja is red and 85 percent of this is Tempranillo. Don't be intimidated if you're not a huge red wine drinker, Rioja also produces plenty of rose and white Tempranillo. To find out why you should be asking for Rioja at your local wine shop, read on.
Besides eating rice and becoming a pastry chef, I found plenty of time to drink vino tinto — red wine — while in Spain. In fact, I must have consumed an entire case of the winery Castillo de Mendoza's Viña Vitaran Rioja Tempranillo. Poured as the house wine at my friend Paco's restaurant, this smooth red is incredibly drinkable. It has a dark ruby color and subtle flavors of cherry and vanilla. I paired it with everything from cheese to salad to meatballs, making it a versatile, useful red. If you are looking to sip a Spanish wine, or hoping to try a new varietal, I highly recommend giving this wine a taste.
One of the first words I learned when I arrived in Spain five years ago was Rioja. After cerveza (beer) and probabdores (dressing rooms), it was an integral part of my everyday vocabulary. Rioja (pronounced Ree-oh-ha) is Spain's most predominant red wine. The wine is produced in the central Spanish region referred to as the Rioja.The wines are made from Tempranillo and other grapes, are often aged in oak, and trace some heritage to Bordeaux, France from where many wine makers emigrated.
When you ask for a glass of the house vino tinto (red wine) anywhere in Spain, you will be poured a Rioja. Within the last few years Rioja has experienced an enormous growth and popularity here in the United States. Rioja pairs well with Spanish cheeses, hearty winter dishes and stews with beans, and roasted poultries. You can purchase a bottle of Campo Viejo 2003 Crianza Rioja at this online wine shop for under $10.