Celebrate Int’l Tempranillo Day – Raise a Glass and Your Wine IQ

I was browsing through my Pinterest today, and I found a great little pin from our friends at Wine Folly. It’s a calendar infographic with “certain” holidays marked for us. I had no idea there were fifteen (YES! FIFTEEN!) holidays designated to wines. This is the best news I’ve heard in a long time, well besides the day I found out there was a National Doughnut Day  – cuz that was pretty awesome – I mean who wouldn’t want permission to eat fried, glazed and sprinkled dough all day. Not me, nom nom.

Anyway, luck just so has it that TODAY, the second Thursday in November, is International Tempranillo Day. Sounds exotic, right?

I can’t really say that I know that much about Tempranillo. But, I definitely like the name. It sounds like Reee-Ko  Su-waaa-vay in a glass. I do know that I have a lot of learning to do before I pour myself a glass tonight. Otherwise, how can I truly enjoy this International day of grape flavored goodness? Shall we learn together?

Great! Buckle up, cuz here we go…



First stop on the learning train…

What is a Tempranillo wine? Before we answer that, we first need to understand the grape. The Tempranillo grape has a very rich heritage dating as far back as 800BC. It has been used to produce some of the finest wines in both Spain and Portugal. It is used as the main grape in Rioja (hint, hint – you might recognize that name). Tempranillo is such an integral part winemaking in Spain that it is often referred to as their ‘noble grape’. The grape itself is large with a slightly thinner skin than a typical black grape. This gives the red wine a hint of transparency when compared against a Syrah which has a thicker skin. Don’t let this transparency fool you though because Tempranillo is considered a full-bodied wine, and it usually packs a whopping alcohol punch around 13-14.5% ABV. (whoa baby!)

What does Tempranillo taste like? Good question my friend because I haven’t opened my bottle yet 🙂 Just kidding, I did a little research to know what to expect. Tempranillo has a medium acidity level and is often mid to high ranged in their tannin level. Tempranillo wines can vary in prominent flavors depending on their age. Young wines are often unoaked and fruity like berries, plums or jam. While the older more complex wines have usually been aged in oak and carry notes of vanilla, toast, and tobacco. Regardless of the age, you will appreciate the wine more fully if you decant it for at least 1-2 hours before serving, this will allow the wine to open up.

Where can I buy it and will cost me a fortune? Well, you can buy it just about anywhere once you understand what your looking for. My local grocery store had ONE brand of wine in stock labeled Tempranillo. When I looked a little closer, I noticed that they actually had several that were Tempranillo varietals. Each had around 80-90% Tempranillo and then a mixture of other Bordeaux grapes. When shopping for Tempranillo, don’t expect every wine to have the “Tempranillo” word itself on the front of the bottle. Often times Spanish wines are labeled by the particular Region (Rioja for Example) and also by classification of quality such as Crianza, Reserva and Gran Reserva. Since Tempranillo is generally the predominant grape in 60-80% of Rioja blends, I would look there if you are having a hard time finding one labeled Tempranillo. You’re looking for Rioja! As far as the price, it can vary just like any other wine – by vintage and winemaker. The average price at my local grocer ranged from $8.99 for a screw-top to $24.99 for the one with a little fancier label. Most of the bottles were in the $10-$15 range, so again… about like all the other wines. The bottle I finally decided on, Marques de Caceres – Crianza 2011, was $13.99 with my savings card. So not too bad.





What grub goes with it? Food! All food! More seriously, you will want to pair it with something rich: steak, lamb, ham, fried foods, tomato based pasta or a medium matured cheese. Since it’s a Spanish wine, you could also pair it with some tapas or paella for an authentic experience. Keep in mind that with this wine you will want your meal to contain fatty proteins. Don’t skimp! The proteins will bind with the tannins and help meld the flavors together.  Tonight, we are pairing our wine with Southern pulled pork over homemade egg noodles (Jealous? Don’t be – you can make it too!) Full of fat and lots of wine… the perfect meal!



I hope you have enjoyed your brief trip through the vineyards of Spain exploring the noble grape (or at least this article about them). Stay tuned for the review of Marques de Caceres – Crianza 2011. In the meantime, grab a glass, pop a cork and have a happy International Tempranillo Day!!!


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