Rioja is one of the most common Spanish iwnes you’ll find on the shelves at the local store. It’s typically a blend of Tempranillo, Grenache, Graciano, and Carignan grapes with Tempranillo being the primary grape (usually 60% ish). Most Rioja wines are aged in oak barrels for various amounts of time depending on the classification. There are 4 classifications:
Rioja: Aged in oak for less than 1 year.
Crianza: Aged at least 2 years and at least 1 year in oak.
Rioja Reserva: Aged at least 3 years and at least 1 year in oak.
Rioja Gran Reserva: Aged at least 3 years and at least 2 years in oak.
Kind of like French wines, you may not see all the information you’re looking for on the labels. What’s the blend? What classification is it? It’s a European thing. In America we label our wines by varietal whereas in Europe it’s by region and you’re just supposed to know them. I’m getting there with my French wines but Spain is project for the distant future. What can you take away from all this information? Rioja is good and you should try it.
colonelgrape: 82. We found this 2005 Reserva for $25 so it’s a very affordable wine. The wine itself was a very dark purple and had good spice, earth, and tannins…probably why it worked so well with the rustic Italian food we had. There’s something about Spanish wine that I can’t quite put my finger on…I do enjoy Rioja I just can’t figure it out yet. When I have Tempranillo at tapas bars I get the same feeling. Maybe Tempranillo just isn’t my thing? I don’t know yet but the bottom line is that it’s a solid wine and I’d recommend it if you’re looking to branch out into Spain.
MobyGrape: 88. I think they found a way to bottle Enrique Iglesias’ primo. It smelled like regular wine at first, and then the longer it sat out I guess it smelled a little funkier (but at that point, who really cares), but this is a great little wine. Tastes a little fruity up front but it’s nice and smooth. The longer it breathes the more bite it picks up. For a while I thought it had a little caramel flavor but then again there’s an excellent change I’m only imagining that. This was perfectly fine with food, and it’s perfectly fine on its own. What’s even more perfect is that the Colonel had to go and the rest of the bottle is allllll mine.