Examining This Spanish Grape: The History Of Tempranillo 

Tempranillo is the quintessential Spanish grape. The third most planted varietal in the world, it is most famous as being the primary grape of Rioja reds where it is blended with a bit of Graciano, Mazuelo or Garnacha. Originating in the Iberian Peninsula, it dates to at least the ninth century, and Spain is responsible for 80% of the world production.  Tempranillo now grows in most of the Spanish red wine regions, often with other names like Tinta del Toro,  Tinta del Pais and Tinto de La Rioja.

But the grape has made headway in other parts of the world, mainly in Portugal (Tinta Roriz), Argentina, Mexico and the United States. While not having the same kind of recognition as other red grapes such as Merlot or Pinot Noir, its long history of making complex, long-lived wine is one to truly applaud. 

Due to the hardy nature of the vine, it has a natural ability to withstand hot, dry climates making it perfect for cultivation in Spain and other warm wine regions around the world. The thick skin of Tempranillo grapes allows the fruit to fully ripen in hot daytime temperatures while cooler nights help maintain the natural acid balance. 

This Old World grape varietal may have started its existence as a staple in Spanish winemaking tradition but has since become appreciated around the world. 

Tempranillo Wine Characteristics: What Does It Taste Like? 

Tempranillo is known for its contrasting earthy and fruity flavours, most notably leather and cherry. This medium-bodied ruby coloured wine has a low to medium acidity level and offers smooth tannins on the finish. 

On the palate, you can expect fruity notes of plum, figs, strawberries and occasionally tomatoes. On the more earthy side of the spectrum, wine connoisseurs may observe notes of cedar, tobacco and cloves. Tempranillo is often aged in oak barrels, mostly American, which give an aroma of vanilla, coconut and caramel. 

New world versions of Tempranillo tend to be more fruity and tannic while the Spanish tempranillo shows more earthy notes.

Best Food Pairings For This Grape Varietal 

Due to its savoury qualities and fruity finish, this wine style complements a wide range of dishes from grilled meat to paella and tomato-rich Italian pasta. 

For a more rustic, traditional experience consider pairing this grape varietal with a true classic Spanish dish of roasted vegetables and cured meats. The saltiness of the meat pairs exceptionally well with the sweeter fruit notes. With its moderate tannin and acidity, it has been known to pair well with spicier Mexican cuisine and corn-based dishes. Cheese and charcuterie boards are also a great match for Tempranillo.

Where To Buy Tempranillo Wine In Ontario? 

Interested in trying this beautiful Spanish grape for yourself? The good news is that Tempranillo can be easily purchased in Ontario especially through a trusted online wine agent. Here at Small Winemakers, the Tempranillo grape varietal has held a special place in our hearts for a long time. This luxurious grape is a staple that all wine aficionados should have in their cellar. 

We highly recommend that you try the Bodegas Bilbainas – Vina Pomal Crianza 2016 for its soft palate and toasted, vanilla flavours. Or, perhaps the Bodegas Forcada – Flor de Baco Crianza 2016 for its intense spicy aromas, balsamic hue and fruit candy finish.

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