The Taste of Tempranillo Wine


spanish tempranillo wine in a vineyard in Spain


What is Tempranillo Wine?

Tempranillo is a black-skinned grape variety native to Spain that sits between a Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon in the red wine family. The name means "early" in Spanish as it refers to the fact that the grape ripens significantly earlier than most Spanish grapes. This wine is most notably the hero variety of Rioja that is often blended with other grapes in the country’s northern reaches. 

How do you say Tempranillo?

With this emerging wine, many Australians often ask what is the best way to say the name of this wine. As far as pronunciation goes, it is Tem-pra-nee-yo - and you actually leave the "Ls" silent, which is common in Spanish-speaking countries.

What does Tempranillo taste like?

Tempranillo wine has a moderate thickness of skin and a ruby red colour overall, however, when comparing it to a Syrah it does have thinner skins and larger grapes. Resulting in a translucent appearance when looking at it in a glass. The wine is a medium to full-bodied red wine style. The flavours can be described with elements of plum and cherry but more commonly with savoury flavours like tomato, leather, cedar and vanilla.

For this reason, Tempranillo is often partnered with oak to enhance these elements, taking on spices like clove, nutmeg, chocolate and coconut notes from the time spent in the winemaker's choice of oak. In accordance with the style of traditional oak ageing in Spain, Tempranillo will obtain a ruddy-orange hue from the process. While the flavour is big, the texture won't be oily or thick.


What is Tempranillo like in Australia?

Tempranillo has been widely planted in Australia for over 20 years in places such as the Southern Highlands of New South Wales, McLaren Vale and Adelaide Hills in South Australia. All of which have had great success with the variety. Its early ripening means it picked early in the season avoiding most of the extreme heat of the Australian harvest. 

In Australia, Tempranillo’s style often comes down to the winemaker’s creative flair and the climate in which it is grown in. In warmer climates, the generosity of black fruits, spice and sunny disposition is welcoming. What the grape lacks in sophistication it makes up for in pleasant drinkability. In cooler climates, the flavours are finer, and more subtle, including herbs and fruits.

What is Tempranillo usually blended with?

Tempranillo is often made up of 90% of a blend and is usually less frequently bottled as a single varietal. Since the wine is low in both acidity and sugar content, it is most commonly found to be blended with Grenache (known as Garnacha in Spain), Carignan (known as Mazuela in Spain), Graciano, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon.

Do you chill Tempranillo wine?

Believe it or not, Tempranillo wine can be served chilled. Making it one of the few reds you can treat like a white wine. Chilling it as cold as you like, especially during those super hot summers, this wine's flavours can still be predominately tasted. Tempranillo makes for a great summer barbecue wine you can treat your friends to.


Tempranillo Food Pairing

Regional Spanish cuisine pair really well with Tempranillo wine, which includes roasted vegetables and cured meats, such as Jamón Iberico de Bellota. However, the wine is diverse and not only pairs with local Spanish food, but it also compliments foods from all over the globe.

Italian dishes with tomato-based sauces such as lasagna and pizza are great to pair with, as well as smokey dishes cooked on the barbecue. In addition, Mexican food such as tacos, nachos, and burritos are great to consider when matching this wine's savoury characteristics.