Choose your country:.

Rioja & Food

Rioja Pairing Chart

Pairing Chart
STYLE EXAMPLES FLAVORS PAIRING
Stainless-steel fermented white Rioja Light, crisp, modern-style white Riojas are fermented in stainless steel vats and are released after only a few months of bottle aging. These wines deliver extraordinary value and consistency. Made primarily with the native Viura grape variety, occasionally supplemented by Malvasia and Garnacha Blanca Bodegas Riojanas Puerta Vieja Blanco, Marqués de Cáceres Blanco Clean and citrusy with aromas of fresh stone fruit (peach, apricot), ripe pears and green apples.

Pair with grilled chicken salad with Arugula and lemon pepper dressing; roasted beets and goat cheese salad; shrimp cocktail

Makes a great white sangria.

Enjoy as a super-quaffable pre-meal aperitif on its own or with a splash of crème de cassis to make a light and lovely kir.

Barrel-fermented white Rioja Modern-style oak-aged white Riojas are fermented in 225-liter French oak barriques, often kept on their lees (spent yeast), which adds a tropical fruity richness and Champagne-like yeasty complexity.

Classic white Rioja is fermented in enormous seasoned American oak cubos, with up to ten years in bottle before release

Modern:
Bodegas Breton Loriñon Blanco

Classic:
López de Heredia Viña Tondonia Blanco Gran Reserva

Modern: Aromas of vanilla, coconut, butter, tropical fruit, and honey. A rich mouthfeel, almost creamy, good pineapple-like acidity, and a dry finish.

Classic: Expect heady and seductive aromas of honey, almonds, coconut, pineapple, and an almost

Modern: Barrel-fermented white Rioja is a great Chardonnay substitute, recommended with richer fish (salmon, tuna), shellfish and stronger flavors like garlic (think codfish with garlic and clams), and things that actually have fruit in them (mango salsa, couscous with blond raisins and stewed chicken–think North African), and of course, dessert.

Classic: Great with mushrooms, asparagus, lobster, grilled white fish (turbot, Dover sole, halibut). The aged-whites of Rioja are some of the most food-compatible wines in the world.

Rioja Rosado (Rosé) Usually made with Garnacha, sometimes Tempranillo (or a blend of the two), Rioja Rosados have a barely perceptible touch of textural astringency (the result of minimal grape skin contact) and good acidity, making them surprisingly versatile food wines. Usually unoaked. Marqués de Riscal Rosado, López de Heredia Viña Tondonia Rosado Gran Reserva, Muga Rosado Exuberant aromas of red berry fruit–think cherry and strawberry–with a dry finish Perfect for quenching your thirst on a hot day (or for conjuring summer on cold days), we like Rioja Rosados alongside North African vegetable purees, with peppered tuna sashimi, and as a fruity foil for fresh goat cheese. Just be sure to look for bottle from the most recent vintage. With very few exceptions, Rosado is not meant to age. So drink ‘em if you got ‘em.

Rioja Tinto (Red) Joven (young) wines are exuberant reds with minimal (less than 12 months) oak aging or no oak aging at all.

Increasingly, producers of ultra modern Rioja are opting out of classic age designations (Crianza, etc.) in favor of a generic Rioja seal. Typically sourced from old vineyard sites with highly specific terroir profiles, these wines tend to see all new French oak and hit the market as early as three years after harvest.

Joven: Pagos del Rey El Círculo Joven 2007, Bodegas Beronia Joven 2005

Ultra Modern: Telmo Rodriguez Lanzaga 2004, Finca El Bosque 2004, Artadi Pagos Viejos 2004

The fruitiest red made in Rioja. Very summery aromas: strawberries and cherries.

Highly extracted bruisers with lush mouthfeel, abundant tannins, super-concentrated red or black fruit, and complex aromas rich with chocolate, baking spices, licorice, tar, fresh tobacco, and sweet flowers.

Great as a sipping wine (in other words, what you drink while you’re cooking dinner) and a summer barbecue wine, also great for red sangria and marinades. Pair with beef or turkey chili, Chinese food, vegetable curry.

Try with a sweet cow’s milk blue cheese (Stilton, Fourme d’Ambert), roasted loin of venison with prunes, grilled ribeye steak, cassoulet, beef bourguignon, pasta Bolognese.

Rioja Tinto (Red) Crianza An easy drinking style, Crianzas tend to emphasize fresh fruit above all else and spend less time in bottle than Reservas. Aged for a minimum of two years, one of which must be in oak barrels. Marqués de Tomares Crianza, Campo Viejo Crianza, Bodegas LAN Crianza Big aromas of strawberries, cherries, with varying degrees of toasty/vanilla flavors and aromas (from the oak) depending on the producer and the type of oak used; but in general fruity and clean on the palate, super quaffable. Rioja’s everyday wine. As an aperitif, with spicy food (think of how a chutney cools the mouth when you’re eating spicy Indian food), whole roasted fish, lasagna. Crianzas’ fruity freshness also makes them a perfect foil for aged sheep’s milk cheeses like Manchego, acting almost like a schmear of fruit jam on top of a buttery, slightly piquant cheese.
Rioja Tinto (Red) Reserva Aged for a minimum of 12 months in oak and at least 24 in bottle before release, Rioja Reserva is the benchmark Rioja, the age category on which most bodegas stake their reputations.

Classic: Bodegas Bretón Loriñon Reserva, Bodegas Riojanas Monte Real Reserva, Bodegas Montecillo Reserva

Modern: Marqués de Riscal Baron de Chirel, Cosme Palacios y Hermanos Reserva Privada, Viñedos del Contino Reserva 2000

Classic style Riojas are aged in American oak barrels, and for considerably longer than the D.O.Ca. requires; they tend to have more developed, eathier aromas with less noticeable fresh fruit but more complexity and finesse.

Modern styles of Reserva tend to have flavor profiles tending towards chocolate, sweet spices, and what the Spanish call sabores balsamicas – fennel, anise, licorice, etc.

A wine to bring to a dinner party or enjoy at home during languorous multi-course Sunday meal. Great with shellfish paella, roasted leg of lamb, wild mushroom risotto, lamb tagine, grilled chorizo, barbecued beef brisket, ratatouille, moo-shoo pork.
Rioja Tinto (Red) Gran Reserva Made only in the best years and aged for a minimum of five years (two years in oak and three years in bottle), although many bodegas choose to age them for much longer. Wines of superlative elegance and finesse, ready to drink upon release. Marqués de Murrieta Castillo de Ygay Gran Reserva, Ramon Bilbao Gran Reserva, Marqués de Cáceres Gran Reserva, Campo Viejo Gran Reserva A seductive and complex blend of subtle spice and soft fruit: blackberries, dried cherries, and cinnamon overlain with very developed, so-called tertiary flavors that are the hallmark of the Old World style: cigar box, leather, wet earth, mushrooms, truffles, and faded flowers. A wine to linger over and return to over the course of a meal, offering the patient drinker something different with each visit to the glass. A special occasion wine. Excellent with fall and winter stews, sautéed mushrooms, duck confit, roasted squab or pheasant, chestnut soup.