What is tempranillo and how does it taste?

Tempranillo is Spain’s greatest red wine varietal. Wines made with it can be anything from soft and round to formidably structured and tannic, demanding  decades of cellar time. They’re frequently fruit-forward, offering anything from strawberries and raspberries to blackberries, plums, and cassis. More complex versions will offer cured tobacco notes and polished leather hints. And a classically crafted tempranillo aged in American oak will reveal a distinct vanilla note.

Where is tempranillo grown?

Tempranillo first gained fame as the principle varietal in Rioja, Spain’s most famous wine. In recent years, other regions of Spain have yielded riveting examples. The Ribera del Duero has proven to be a stellar site for tempranillo, known locally as Tinto Fino or Tinto del Pais. Proprietors in Toro call it Tinta de Toro, which often yields bullish, supercharged versions of tempranillo.

Some popular tempranillo producers:
What food pairs well with tempranillo?

Tempranillo is a versatile red that will shine with many dishes. The key is knowing the style of tempranillo that you are serving. Young, unoaked or lightly oaked tempranillo wines will shine with jamon, chorizo, paella, a mild or medium-hot chili, robustly prepared lamb or pork dishes, even Indian food. On the other hand, a mature, oak aged tempranillo wine such as a Rioja Reserva or a Gran Reserva requires something elegant - a roasted game bird such as pheasant or partridge. And a full-throttle, robust tempranillo such as one from the Ribera del Duero or Toro demands red meat.