By: Fiona Muller
Rioja is a wine that comes from a specific region in Spain. Probably best known for the red wines that are produced in the region there are also white riojas and rase or rosado riojas too. It is in fact a region tht has something to suit every palate. In this article I will try and decipher some of the differences so that you know which wine to look out for when buying wine online.
The rioja region is one of the oldest wine growing regions dating back to 1102. Despite Spain being reuled over by Muslims in its infancy the Spanish have always managed to grow vines – it is said that they told the Musilm armies that they were growing them to dry and serve to the troops as raisins to keep their strength up!
The region that grows the grapes to be made into Rioja wine is in the regions of Rioja, Navarre and part of the Basque. The wine growing region is further divided into three sections – Rioja Alaves, Rioja Alta and Rioja Baja. Alta is the the highest part of the region with the shortest growing season. These wines are lighter wines with a less mature fruit flavour which are ideal for having a bite of tapas with at a lunchtime. They are not so strong so even go with seafood and tomato dishes.
The second part of the region is the Rioja Alavesa which produces heavier wines with a fuller body and deeper flavour. These are more suited to eating with meats and the wonderful Serrano de Jamon which is as much part of the Spanish culture as the Rioja is.
The third wine growing sector of Rioja is the Rioja Baja – this region has a completely different climate from the other two and the wines that are produced from this region are more alcoholic and richer than the previous regions. They are definitely dinner wines – essential with rich Spanish food – their flavours can work with spicy food too making them wines that would be good with game and other strong meats.
The majority of red wine Rioja is produced from Tempranillo grapes. These are sometimes blended with a Garnacha Tinta or Marzuelo grape to add body and aroma to the finished product.
White wine Rioja and Rose Rioja are also produced from this region – they are less familiar to wine lovers but have produced a few classics among them. They are summer drinks and good for outdoor parties.