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Tempranillo Talk

Jessica Lauren, Barcelona Wine Bar Captain, talks the Tempranillo Talk. 

Tempranillo has quickly become a household name in the wine world, and for good reason; it’s plentiful, versatile, blends well with other varietals, and can both stand on its own as well as pair well with food. These wines are often crowd pleasers that are accessible to both novices and experts alike.

The name “Tempranillo,” which has popped up throughout history as early as the 13th century, comes from the Spanish word “temprano” meaning “early” because the grape is ready to harvest earlier in the season than most others. The hardy grape thrives in clay and mineral rich soils in regions that are warm during the day and cool at night. It’s the most popular grape from a number of Spanish regions, namely Rioja and Ribera del Duero.

Tempranillo wine is an aromatic wine characterized by its dryness, medium tannins, low acidity levels, medium to full body, and rich flavors. Its color can range from red-orange rust to vibrant ruby red to deep inky purple depending on its aging, use of French or American oak, and blending with other grapes. Pure Tempranillo wines boast flavors of strawberry, cherry, black tea, and earth. Oak can introduce baking spices, tobacco, and vanilla for a fuller flavor. Blending with other grapes such as Garnacha, Cabernet, or Syrah can further include pepper, black currant, and plum.


Tempranillo’s versatility make the resulting wines dynamic and exciting to drink on their own but also fun and easy to pair with food. Koden is a favorite with many members of the Barcelona family as it exhibits classic Tempranillo characteristics and is easy drinking all on its own. Other Tempranillos such as Nucerro go great with a nutty aged Mahon cheese or a creamy Tetilla. The boldness of Prima and La Montessa goes great with red meats and stands up to the full flavors of hangar steak and zesty albondigas. A fuller blend like the Quinta Sardonia “QS2” brings darker fruits and spices to the table that can even carry into dessert and pair great with the richness of a chocolate hazelnut indulgence. The beauty of Tempranillo is that it is bold yet delicately nuanced. It provides opportunities to create and do more as wine production methods progress. This grape that is rooted deep in the history of Spain’s winemaking traditions is not going out of style anytime soon. In fact, fans eagerly look forward to seeing what the future holds for this superstar Spanish grape.