Want proof that anyone—or anything—can benefit from a makeover? Pour yourself a glass of Spanish Rioja and you’ll taste the results of almost two decades of work to make the wines better-tasting and more consistent.
Old-school Riojas were blends of several kinds of grapes from across the region. They were always subtle and earthy, but they never achieved the same popularity of Australian and South American reds.
That led winemakers to shift the grapes they used to the Tempranillo grape, which gives the wines richness and unique personality, blended with garnacha tinta—better known as Grenache—which is one of the most succulent grapes in the vineyard.
Wines from Spain have a combination of flavor and aroma that’s unlike wines from anywhere else. “In Spain, most producers choose to emphasize the otherworldly aromas that can only be brought about by attention to terroir and careful aging,” says Katrin Naelapaa, director of the trade group Wines from Spain.
These delicious, grown-up wines again prove the point: It’s never too late to start over.
How to Drink Rioja
- Start with a Rioja labeled “Crianza.” These are the region’s casual reds and are mellowed in oak casks. They are the youngest of the aged Riojas, and don’t overwhelm with oak flavor.
- Taste for plums, blackberries, cherries, leather, and cinnamon.
- Sniff for aromas such as leather, mushrooms, licorice, and cigar box.
- Serve with food you think of as warm and comforting like roasts, or vegetarian or meat stews. Riojas are one of the most food-friendly wines, and go great with virtually anything from the grill. Many people recommend lasagna as the perfect pairing.
3 Riojas Recommended by Publix: