Rioja wines in all of their styles and colors are great food pairing wines, and are worth considering for your upcoming Spring meals and backyard parties.
Many people may think that Rioja only produces red wine, but this region in Spain also produces whites and roses (called rosados).
Spanish rosados are made with Grenache and/or Tempranillo, the main red grapes of the region. They are dry, intensely fruity, and have more acidity and body then French style roses. They are great to drink cold on a hot day, and will pair with all manner of cheeses, charcuterie, and appetizers. Take a Spanish rosado along on your next picnic and pair it with sandwiches or fried chicken.
White Rioja is primarily made from Viura, with a bit of Malvasia for blending. Similar to Chardonnay, White Rioja can be heavily oaked or made entirely in stainless steel, or even a bit of both. Unoaked styles have lots of citrus and stone fruit flavors along with some green apple or pear flavors. Pair these wines with salads, sushi, chicken or pork. Unoaked styles are also great as a base for white sangria and other wine cocktails. Oaked styles have more body, so they can stand up to food that has more body – salmon, grilled lobster, proteins with rich sauces, and just about anything you’d pair with an oaked Chardonnay.
Traditional red Riojas are bold wines that can stand up to bold food. Made from Tempranillo and Grenache, these wines have a core of red and black fruit flavors, along with rich earthy, oaky, vanilla, and leather notes. As the weather warms up and you dust off the grill, think about pairing red Riojas with grilled lamb chops, grilled sausages or anything with bacon!