How much do you know about Rioja reds? Maybe it’s been a long-time favorite of yours or maybe you’re looking to try something new. In case you didn’t know, Rioja isn’t the grape, bests rioja wines it’s actually the most famous wine region in Spain. The most well-known grape from the region is the tempranillo grape. Around 85% of the wine that comes from the Rioja region is red wine but, not all Riojas are red, there are also some white Riojas as well as some rosés.
As red wine is the most dominant wine from the region, let’s take a look at 10 Rioja Reds and explore some of the main characteristics you can see, smell, and taste.
But first, we need to know how to taste wine like the pros! There are five main steps to wine tasting, first, you need to see the wine, and notice the colors and hues it has. Next, we have the swirl, swirl the wine in the glass in order to release the bouquet of aromas. Then you should smell the wine which will help you take notice of the mix of flavors in the wine. The fourth step is to sip the wine (my favorite part!). When you sip the wine take notice of the different flavors that you can identify, can you taste the same notes that you smelled? Finally, swallow the wine and repeat!
The color is almost purple close to cherry which is typical of Crianzas wines due to the aging process. It has intoxicating aromas of vanilla, oak, and red fruits. This is a dry, full-bodied wine with a palate of spices, ripe fruits, and tannins. With your first sip, you will notice the fruitiness with notes of many red fruits including red cherries, strawberries, and raspberries as well as blackberries and blueberries. On your second sip, you will notice the oak flavors with nuances of vanilla and chocolate.
Learn more about the aging process of Rioja wine here: Spanish Wine Aging Requirements & Current Trends in Rioja
This aged wine is dark purple in color and has a subtle smell of oak and lightly roasted coffee with a nuance of cherries. With your first sip of this wine, you will immediately taste the fruity flavors rich in black fruit like black cherries but it’s not over-concentrated. You will also get smokey notes and nuances of dark chocolate. This is a dense wine with a concentrated palate so you have the flavor on your tongue for a while even once you’ve finished it.
This Tempranillo has a bright red cherry color with a bit of purple mixed in similar to the 2018 Crianza. You will notice a powerful aroma of oak with complementing notes of dark roasted coffee. You will also get a very fruity bouquet of cherries and blackberries. This wine is full-bodied and well balanced with silky tannins and elegant zesty notes.
At first glance, you will see the ruby red color of this Reserva which matches the strong fruity notes in this wine. The powerful smell of fruit is beautifully complemented with notes of toffee, cocoa, and vanilla and a hint of lightly roasted coffee. It’s a full-body wine with powerful flavors of black cherries, and plum as well as a touch of cocoa. It’s voluminous and has a long finish.
The deep garnet color of this Reserva is often found in wines from the Rioja wine region due to the oak aging process. Also, because of this, it’s no surprise that oak is often an aroma you will find in Reserva wines, this one included. Along with the smell of fresh oak, you will also notice the smell of ripe red cherries. When it comes to flavor, it comes alive with a full fruity palate made up of red cherries, blackberries, blueberries, and raspberries. In addition to the lively flavor, you will also get notes of sweet cocoa, oak, vanilla, and a hint of tobacco.
This wine is deep red in color with a dash of brown and smells of black fruits and berries mixed with vanilla and oak notes. The taste is very triangular and has an intense spiciness from the start. You can also taste the mix of red fruits such as plumb. Overall it is a more aggressive flavor but it has a velvety-smooth finish.
This Reserva has a classic deep dark red color and you can see fading in the edges, and as we’ve seen with other aged Riojas, you will smell the strong aroma of oak, cherries, and tobacco. Take a sip and you will immediately notice the cherry and oak flavors in this medium-bodied wine. The oak and cherry flavors are balanced along with notes of vanilla, tobacco, plum, and blackberry.
The delicious wine has a striking dark ruby color and violet hues and has earthy smells of light oak, leather, and mushrooms with muted notes of cherry and red berries like raspberry wrapped in spices, and hints of vanilla and caramel. To the taste, it is soft and expressive with a smooth entry and a pleasant and long finish. This Crianza has body and is very well balanced.
Pour a glass of this Crianza and you will notice it has a deep, dark cherry color and a strong plum aroma along with a mix of red berries, black cherries, and cinnamon. It has a soft entry and the fruity flavor profile matches the aromas. It has a pleasant medium acidity with well-integrated tannins with a long and balanced finish.
Here we have another Reserva with a dark, deep garnet color and a very powerful oak aroma with a slight hint of fruit and florals along with notes of cocoa, and caramel which all blend well harmoniously. It has a strong palate which creates a soft and voluminous sensation. You will not only notice flavors of red berries like strawberries and raspberries and a nuance of cherries and florals but earthy flavors of oak and leather. This tasty wine has low acidity and a beautifully fresh finish.
So as you can see, although there are many similarities in Rioja red wines, there is still plenty of diversity. So, no matter your preference, there is a Spanish red wine waiting for you! Which one will you try first?
Read more about Rioja wine in our article: Learn About Rioja Wine: Grapes, Characteristics and Styles
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