It's Time to Fancy Tempranillo for Enjoyment and Value

I’m hoping that everyone had a perfect restful Thanksgiving and I’m happy that you all went out to purchase me a gift on Black Friday 😊.  Seriously, I hope that everyone did enjoy the holiday.  Since now officially (in the US at least) we can say it’s the Christmas Holidays, I started to think about what I would write about next.  I did a bit of shopping and looked through the wine fridges to see what the next grape we should explore.  And that is Tempranillo.

This is a grape variety that I was introduced to years ago in Undergrad ( I did say years).  It was economical for a poor college student, had a great flavor profile and had one incredible fact:

  • It’s a moderately lower tannin grape.

Now let’s make this clear.  Tempranillo to some falls in the midrange to high on the Tannin scale.  I agree with that in the younger offerings.  However, with ageing, these tannins drop off and make the wines much more approachable. Today’s article discusses fun facts about the variety along with some purchasing hints.

How to Pronounce

Tempranillo to me is an easy one to pronounce once you hear it for the first time.  Please do not pronounce it like some of the websites I checked out.  It’s a Spanish grape that is phonetically pronounced like this:


Important Facts

Best Areas for Wine Production

This variety originated in Spain but is grown in several other areas.  If you have the opportunity to try the Texas vintages, I would strongly suggest to.  However, most of the growth is in Spanish regions such as:


Castilla y Leon,

Ribera Del Duero, and


They can be Aged before Purchasing

As I’ve stated a few times, I’m not an enthusiastic fan of big tannic wines.  I do understand them and sometimes enjoy them when paired with food.  However, I just never been a fan and they tend not to be my first choice. I’m trained so I know what to look for.  However, the average customer does not.

Let’s change this to the perspective of a consumer.  I’m focusing on lower tannin wines.  How do you know what to look for?  If you go to any well stocked wine shop, it’s daunting to find anything that you may like.  Most people select wines based on one of these options:

  • They stick to the wines that they have had previously,
  • They read the little note written by someone on the back label or under the price telling you about the wine,
  • They grab one on sale on the end cap or displayed in the boxes when you walk by them,
  • They pick the cutest label, or
  • They reach out to employee to hopefully get a wine selection that matches their profile.

A good amount of Spanish wine (including Tempranillo) has been pre-aged by the winemaker based on Spanish Wine laws.  Take a look at the chart below.  On the left are the categories for red wines.  If you see this on the label, the information to the right shows what the winemaker has done in regard to ageing. 

For example, if the wine says it’s a Gran Reserva, it means that the winemaker has aged the wine for a minimum of three years in oak barrels, then aged it for a minimum of 2 years in the bottle.  They cannot legally release the bottle until 6 years after the vintage date.  Which means the you may start to find Gran Reserva from 2017.  However, the winemaker will release them when they are deemed ready.


Label Terms

In the Bottle

In Oak

Release Date


½ year min.

1 year min.

Min 2 years after vintage


1 year min.

2 years min

4 years after vintage

Gran Reserva

2 years min.

3 years min.

6 years after vintage


Did I mention how much these wines cost?  I can find Gran Reservas for around $25 if I know where to look but $30 is normal.  Please take a moment and think about this.  You are drinking an aged wine for that price is a deal.  The other categories sell for a lower price.

Drink all of the Bottle

That statement sounds weird but let me explain.  When I open a bottle of Tempranillo, I know that I’m committed to finishing the bottle.  Yes, when I open any bottle, I finish it.  However, I may not finish it in one sitting.  That means, I’ll gas the bottle, recork it and then place it in the fridge to finish off in the next few days.

Tempranillo does not like gassing…at all.  That sounds like I made this up, but I find that the wine changes dramatically once opened.  I have gassed them and then come back the next day to find them completely different.  Therefore, I say this to everyone when I recommend a bottle of Tempranillo:


As in, drink the bottle completely.  I’ve seen this variety die in the glass after 20 minutes.  That’s why I like to pour small amounts (like 3 oz) which helps regulate the serving temperature as well as ensuring you finish the glass so I can pour more.  Even when I used to serve wine on the floor, I would tell people to get ready to drink (of course in a nicer way).

Yes, it sounds crazy but trust me on this one.  If you taste any metallic tone (like licking a piece of metal), then the wine is dying in front of you.  Think of the scene in A Christmas Story.  Save the wine by giving it life on your palate and chugging it.

Tempranillo’s Profile

Here’s what you will typically find in a glass of Tempranillo:

Sweetness level:  dry to off dry

Acid level: medium to medium +

Body:   medium to medium +

Tannin levels from grape:  medium to medium +

Typical Aromas:  blackberries, black cherries, raspberries, plums (red and black), dried figs and raisins, tobacco, prunes, cooked strawberries, cedar box, cocoa powder, dried meats, hints of pepper and rosemary.

Typical Flavors:  black cherries, cigar tobacco, plums (red and black), cocoa or dark chocolate, dried fruit (fig, prunes, berries, currants), dried meats, light black pepper, and dried rosemary

Anchor for me

Tempranillo for me is a combination of the flavors, aromas, and mouthfeel.  When I taste dried fruit, with moderate acids, and then lower tannins (from the aged wines), I just know what it is.  Just a unique combination that’s not found in other varieties.

Final Thoughts

It’s amazing when I look at my collection that I always have a few Tempranillos to choose from.  They are an excellent value, but I know that I have to commit when I open one.  Again, they do not seem to last long (even when gassed and stored properly).  Therefore, I’m ordering you that when you open a bottle, that you commit to drinking it completely. 😊

Next week, I’ll have two options that I’ll review to give you my opinion on along with food pairings.  I guess then I have to commit to drinking both of them for you in the name of research. 

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