Beginner’s Guide to Buying Rioja Red Wines

Really good information about Rioja wines. Take note!

Opening a Bottle

On a recent outing to my local wine shop, I surveyed their aisle of Spanish wine looking for something to catch my eye. Somewhere between contemplating a Faustino V Reserva and the Viña Eguía Reserva I eventually bought (and loved), it dawned on me that it might be helpful to create a simple guide to the four classifications of Rioja red wine.

A Little Background on Rioja Tinto

First off, tinto means red, and Rioja Tinto is centered on the Tempranillo grape, which is often blended with Garnacha Tinta (aka Grenache), Graciano and/or Mazuelo. Rioja is more like Bordeaux than Burgundy or Piedmont, in that the region’s red wines are predominantly blended wines, where Tempranillo serves as the core, and other grapes are blended in to soften edges, or dial up or down the fruitiness or body.

Tempranillo’s flavor profile is very cherry, a bit plummy, and can carry residual aromas and flavors of tobacco leaf, and…

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