Rioja Wine Description

Written by katherine martinelli
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Rioja Wine Description
Rioja wine dates back to 11th-century Spain. (viñedo 1 image by Maximo Sanz from

Spanish Rioja wine comes in red, rosé and white varieties. The most common, red Rioja tends to have berry and stone-fruit notes while white Rioja often displays citrus and tropical fruit aromas.


Rioja wine comes from the Rioja region of northern Spain. To be called Rioja, it must come from the subregions of Alta, Alavesa or Baja. Rioja was the first Denominación de Origen Calificada (DOCa) region in Spain.


Red Rioja makes up 80 per cent of Rioja production. There are also rosé and white varieties, which each make up 10 per cent of Rioja production. When the wine is simply called Rioja, it is the youngest variety. The classification crianza means the wine has aged for at least two years, while Rioja resera indicates that it has been aged for at least three years. If a bottle says Rioja gran reserva, then it has aged for at least two years in oak and an additional three in the bottle.


Tempranillo, garnacha tinta, graciano and mazuelo are the grapes used in different proportions to make red Rioja. To make white Rioja, viura, malvasia and garnacha blanca grapes can be used. Tempranillo usually comprises the majority of red Riojas while garnacha blanca comprises the majority of whites.


Although the flavour of Rioja differs based upon the exact blend of grapes and the age of the wine, red Riojas tend to be fruity with possible chocolate, spice, earthy or oak notes. White Riojas are often bright and clean with good acidity and a variety of possible fruit aromas.

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