Tempranillo is a red grape variety that produces ruby coloured wine. If the winemaking process involves just these grapes, then the resulting wine is medium-bodied. But these days they are blended with other grapes such as Garnacha, Graciano to produce a full-bodied wine. Though these grapes have a long history in Spain for producing complex and long-lived wines, they have lost their name recognition in recent years because of being blended with other grapes. They have thin skins, medium acidity and smooth tannins. The wines produced from these grapes are generally moderate in alcohol levels and can age for decades. These grapes are the fourth most planted variety globally and are called one of the nine red noble grapes.
What is tempranillo wine?
Tempranillo wines are produced from Tempranillo grapes, and people consider it as a top wine in Spain. It is ruby red, and its aromas and flavours have a hint of berries, tobacco, vanilla, leather, and herb. They can also be oaked; the typical duration for this is 6 to 18 months. As explained before, tempranillo wine is less frequently bottled as a single varietal; they are mostly blended with Carignan, merlot, and cabernet. Since tempranillo wines are low in acidity and sugar content, mixing it with Carignan makes it much brighter and acidic. The alcohol by volume for a tempranillo wine ranges between 13% to 14.5%. These wines are prominent in Spain and other parts such as Portugal, Australia, Argentina, and the USA. It is also called Rioja, Valdepenas, and Ribera del Duero.
What does Tempranillo taste like?
A Spanish Tempranillo has contrasting flavours of both leather and cherries. The finer the wine, the more it is balanced between earth and fruit. They also have a smooth finish and lingers with a taste of tannin on either side of the mouth. On the other hand, tempranillo wines from new world countries such as Argentina, Mexico offer more fruity flavours like cherry and tomato sauce followed by less earthy notes and chunky tannins.
If you have not tried Tempranillo before, you may find its taste similar to that of a Cabernet Sauvignon or Sangiovese. Tempranillo might taste full-bodied with the addition of new-oak aging. However, it has a thin skin and larger grape size than Syrah, so if you look at it in a glass, it appears more translucent.
One advantage of tempranillo wines is that they pair well with all types of food due to its savoury qualities. Traditional Spanish cuisine which has cured meats and roasted vegetables like the Jamon Iberico de Bellota is an excellent choice with tempranillo wines. You can pair it with Spanish meat dishes like pork, grilled steak, and chorizo to create well-balanced flavours. However, tempranillo is quite diverse, and it works well with all types of food across the globe. Even Italian dishes such as pizza, lasagne, or barbecue meats work well with this wine thanks to its savoury notes. Some other food types that work well with this wine are grits, polenta, or any dish with corn as a primary ingredient and Mexican foods such as tacos, nachos, burritos, etc.
Do you chill tempranillo wine?
Red wines taste better when they are chilled, and a tempranillo wine is no different. Its ideal temperature is between 13 to 16 degree Celsius. If the temperature falls below this optimal range, then the chillness overtakes the flavours, and if the temperature exceeds the optimal range, then the flavours are mixed. Since the ideal room temperature is 21 degree Celsius, it is essential to chill the tempranillo.
The best option to cool a bottle of wine is a wine chiller to make sure that the temperature stays optimal. However, if you do not own a wine chiller, then you can use a conventional refrigerator. Just place it in a fridge for an hour before serving, and you are good to go.
While it is essential to use a wine chiller before serving, you should also use one after opening the bottle. If you cannot finish the bottle of wine, instead of leaving it at room temperature, it is best to place it in a cold and dark place to prevent it from spoiling. While a spoiled wine is not harmful to the health, its taste becomes awful.
Suppose you are buying tempranillo, it would help to understand the labelling requirement and its impacts on the flavour. There are four legal aging terms listed on most bottles of wine. The first one is Vin Joven, which is young and rarely aged in oak. They are popular in Spain but rare elsewhere. The Crianza requires two years of age with six months in oak. It uses American oak which is more potent than other types of oak. The reserve goes a step ahead and requires three years of aging and one year in oak. They are of very high quality and have rich flavours. The Gran reserve is aged for five years with 18 months in oak. These wines have an outstanding taste. The next time you buy tempranillo, check the label and buy the flavour profile that appeals to you the most.
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