Spanish Rioja is one of the most popular red wines in the UK. People can’t get enough of these brilliantly complex typically Tempranillo-based wines. What else goes into Rioja reds besides Tempranillo? Garnacha, Graciano, and Mazuelo. Working together, these grapes each play a part in how the final wine looks, adding acid, flavour, body, and alcohol, depending on the variety. Each producer has a different ‘recipe,’ but as mentioned above, more often than not, Tempranillo will make up the bulk of the blend.
And they can be stupendously complex with loads of tart red fruit, spice, and leather aromas. Wonderful with lamb, steaks, stews, roasts, game meats and anything off the grill, Rioja is a wine you should be drinking – and drinking often. But you should hold on to a few bottles as well – Riojas are built to last, with great ageing potential if stored correctly. For everyday enjoyment, stick to Rioja or Crianza, or the odd Reserva if you have a special occasion you’re celebrating. Keep the Gran Reservas for your cellar and for life’s big moments. Unless you’re lucky enough to drink them regularly. We recommend Senorio de San Vincente’s Rioja
Here’s a quick breakdown of the terms and ageing requirements for red Rioja.
- Crianza – minimum 2 years ageing,
- Reserva – minimum 3years ageing
- Gran Reserva – minimum 5 years ageing.
But the region of Rioja produces white wine as well. These are made from Viura (the local name for the Macabeo grape which makes its way into Cava, everyone’s second favourite bubbly after Prosecco), Malvasia and a little Garnacha Blanca, and can be incredibly delicious. One of the great white Riojas of the world is R. Lopez de Heredia Viña Tondonia.
Love Rioja and want to know which restaurants feature it on their wine list? Check out the Winepicker app!