R. López de Heredia

Rioja is arguably Spain’s top wine region and is one of only two regions classified under the Denominación de Origen Calificada (DOCa) system. Its two most important red grapes are Tempranillo and Garnacha.

Although red wines from Rioja are prized, Spanish wines generally offer great bang for the buck, allowing one to indulge in quality vino without breaking the bank!

There are four categories of red wine in Rioja. The youngest of these is “Joven”. “Crianza” wines are required to age for a minimum of 2 years, with 6 months spent in oak barrels. The next level is “Reserva” in which the wine ages for a minimum of 3 years, with at least 1 year in oak barrels. Finally, the most mature wines are labeled “Gran Reserva”. These wines mature for minimum 2 years in oak barrels, followed by at least 3 years in the bottle.

Typically younger wines will be lighter in body style, exhibit more fresh fruit characteristics and are suitable to drink while young. Older wines have more developed flavor profiles, earthy characteristics, and are better suited to aging.

The medium body and high acidity in Spanish red wines from Rioja makes them excellent for pairing with a variety of foods. The approachable price points makes these wines of outstanding quality, readily available to enjoy sans guilt.

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