Red, Pink, and White Spanish Wine

Rioja is a region in Spain with a long, glorious vinicultural history. Rioja wine, especially the red, has been well known for centuries. The Rioja vineyards were planted even before the traditional bringers of wine, the expanding Romans, moved into the area.

Rioja Region Wine and vineyards have always held a special place in Spaniards' hearts. Spain has more acreage planted than any other country. They do not produce the most wine because of their standards of quality. Their attention to detail has been documented for centuries. According to the Consejo Regulador of Rioja website: In 1635, the Mayor of Logro˝o banned carriages from passing along the roads next to cellars "for fear that the vibration from these vehicles might affect the juice and the ageing of our precious wines". The board was created in 1926 to oversee the proper use of the Rioja appellation. The appellation itself was set up by royal decree in 1902.
Zinfandel Riedel wine glass

Red Rioja

The "red Rioja" is most well known style of Rioja. Classic, bold, these wines taste mostly of their tempranillo roots and have a bright, fresh flavor to them. This goes extremely well with steak and other hearty meats. Serve red Riojas at 61F - they do not need decanting.

RosÚ Rioja

The rosÚ version of Rioja is also fresh and strong, but has a lighter weight to it. They are predominantly Garnacha grapes, and are bright pink.

White Rioja (Rioja Blanca)

More greenish-yellow than white, Rioja Blanca has a light, fine aroma and flavor. These wines are made primarily with the Viura grape.

There are seven types of grapes used in making Rioja. Four are used for the red variety, which makes up 80% of all production. Three are used for the white variety, which is another 10%. The final 10% is rosÚ.

Flag of Rioja
Flag of Rioja

Red Grapes

Tempranillo - gentle, berry flavor
Garnacha Tinta - peppery
Graciano - blackberry
Mazuelo - tannin

White Grapes

Viura - tart
Malvasia - nutty
Garnacha Blanca - heavy

Rioja wines can come from three subregions:

Anything from the Rioja region in general is labelled 'Rioja Calificada'. Rioja is the only Spanish wine able to use the term Calificada on its label.

Rioja is also labelled for quality depending on the type of aging the wine has gone through. Typical aging marks include:

  • Vino de Crianza - one year in a cask, at least three years old
  • Reserva - three years old, at least one in oak
  • Gran Reserva - two years in oak plus three in the bottle
Rioja Label

Tempranillo Wine Information
Wine Types Main Listing

All content on the WineIntro website is personally written by author and wine enthusiast Lisa Shea. WineIntro explores the delicious variety and beautiful history which makes up our world of wine! Lisa loves supporting local wineries and encouraging people to drink whatever they like. We all have different taste buds, and that makes our world wonderful. Always drink responsibly.