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Tempranillo is a type of black grape that is native to Spain, derived from the Spanish word ‘temprano’, which means “early”, as the grape tends to ripen many weeks earlier than other Spanish red grapes. The grape, being the main one used in Rioja, is also known as Spain’s “noble grape” and makes a full-bodied red Tempranillo wine. This ruby red colored wine has aromas and flavors that include berries, plum, vanilla, tobacco, leather and herb. In recent years, other countries such as Mexico, South America, USA, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Canada has also started cultivating the grape of Tempranillo.

Origin of Tempranillo Wine

Tempranillo grape varietal, though many believed to be related Pinot Noir grape, studies say otherwise. Vitis Vinifera, the common ancestor of almost all vines that exist today, was cultivated by the Phoenicians, who settled in the southern provinces of Spain and later records show scattered references to Tempranillo by Columella, the Roman writer, because this varietal of grape was thought to be a different kind of indigenous grape. There is also another reference made by the 13th century poet Alejandro to Tempranillo wine being better than Castilian, when he was referring to the Ribera del Duero region of Spain. Till 17th century, this varietal of grape was confined to Spain, used as the majority grape in most of Spain’s finest blends, but Spanish Conquistadors took the seeds of the grape to America, which thereafter moved to other countries, giving a world platform for the wonderful red and full-bodied Tempranillo.

Regions Producing Tempranillo Wine

Tempranillo is a varietal that is native to Spain, with a majority of the grape grown in Rioja, north of Spain and in Ribero del Duero in south of Spain. The wine making of Ribero del Duero goes back 2000 years, where there is evidence of Bacchus, the god of wine, at Banos de Valdearados. In fact a good quantity of the grape is also cultivated to make Tempranillo wine, in the Navarra, Penedis and Valdepenas regions. In Portugal too the grape varietal is included in some of their table wine blends, especially Port Wine. Within the last century, other countries such as Mexico, Argentina, Chile, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and recently Thailand too have started cultivating the grape of Tempranillo.

Preparing Tempranillo Wine

Tempranillo is ideally suited for cold climates, wherein the grapes grow in clusters. At the same time, this variety of grape has the capacity to endure warmer climates; however, such grapes tend to develop indistinct flavors and characteristics that are not desirable. The flavors of Tempranillo wine tends to get over powered with oak; hence it is generally not bottled as a stand along wine, but used as a base for various blends such as Grenache, carignan and cabernet sauvignon.

Ageing and Serving of Tempranillo Wine

Tempranillo is usually consumed young, which is known as “joven style” in Spanish. However, if one wishes to age the wine, a ‘reserva’ is made so as to prepare an aged Tempranillo wine that is known as “crianza”.

Food Pairing of Tempranillo Wine

Tempranillo is a low in acidic and slightly less sweeter wine that goes well certain Spanish foods such as tapas, prawns, olives, chorizo sausages and even dry cured ham that the Spanish love. Even sheep milk cheese, roast peppers and vegetable casseroles go well with Tempranillo.

Tempranillo Wine Trivia

Tempranillo tends to grow well in cold climates, however, for a wine that is sweet with a deep red color, a little heat is required, hence, the climate of Ribero del Duero is ideal.