Within Spain and elsewhere, the tempranillo grape is beloved because it offers a little something for everyone: a full body without being cloying; a thick skin with a tendency to ripen early (perfect for not wilting in Ribera del Duero’s scorching summers); a natural fruitiness and deep flavor that allows winemakers to age it without murking up its nuances or having to blend it with other grapes.
If you’re grabbing a bottle of Ribera del Duero, chances are it’s made entirely of tempranillo – which is referred to locally as tinto fino in order to differentiate its soil and climate from, say, tempranillo grapes grown in Rioja. Ribera del Duero tempranillo is a beautiful beast all its own.
- Full-bodied without going Godzilla-overboard, Ribera del Duero tempranillos are about as food-friendly as red wines get.
- In Ribera del Duero, the local dish of choice is “lechazo asado” – a roast suckling lamb dish that seems to have been put on this earth to be paired with the deep flavors of Ribera del Duero wines.
- If lamb isn’t your jam, any roasted meat will do you just fine. Spice-infused stews or chilis also play nicely with Ribera del Duero.
- Because of tempranillo’s finesse, don’t be afraid to go where other red wines might not go food-wise: salmon, lemon chicken, pulled pork or enchiladas. Vegetarians, fear not: Fire up a platter of smoky grilled vegetables — portobello mushrooms, especially — and you’ve got a magical pairing on your hands.
- Don’t forget dessert! Dark chocolate, flan and other roasty-toasty sweets will be a lovely nightcap with Ribera.