What is Rioja Wine? at Wine4.Me/blog

I had to duck out of the Rioja wine class and tasting a little early when I attended the Snooth PVA weekend a couple of years ago, but I was still able to learn quite a bit and taste some delicious wines. If you’re wondering, “What is Rioja wine?” this information will give you a good understanding of the basics.

Rioja is a region, not a grape

Rioja is a wine region in Spain. Just like other Old World wines, the wine is identified by its region, not by the grape blend in the bottle. Tempranillo is the grape variety you are most likely to find in a Rioja wine as it thrives in the climate and has, consequently, grown in popularity over the years.

You can also find Garnacha Tinta (or Grenache, which is its more popular French name), Graciano, and Mazuelo in Riojan reds, as well as a few others. Don’t be mistaken, though, Rioja also produces white wines. Viura, Malvasia and Garnacha Blanca are among those white Riojan varieties.


Rioja is situated in northern central Spain and is 70 miles long and 30 miles wide,  spanning 7 valleys created by tributaries into the Ebro river, which flows to the Mediterranean. The region is further broken down into three subregions: Rioja Alta, Rioja Alavesa and Rioja Baja.

High Quality Wine

In 1991, Rioja was the first region in Spain to earn the classification of DOCa, or Denominacion de Origen Calificada. This classification signifies that the wines from this region are consistently of high quality. Only two other regions in the country have the same classification. Planting, harvesting and yield practices, as well as other wine-making practices and labeling guidelines are governed and monitored to keep this prestigious classification.

Wine Flavor

So what do the wines taste like?

Tempranillo is typically a medium-bodied wine with red fruit characteristics. That means you might notice sour cherry, cherry, or red berry flavors in a glass. That being said, however, I don’t find them to typically be all fruit, as I often notice hints of tobacco or spices, as well. I most often find them to be full of flavor and have absolutely enjoyed exploring Rioja tempranillos both when offered at 100% and when blended perhaps with Garnacha Tinta.

Rioja wines in the Wine4.Me App

Want to try a Rioja wine and rate it?

  • Open your Wine4.Me app and tap on “find a wine.”
  • Then tap “Red,” (we don’t have any Rioja whites in the app right now).
  • Next tap the search bar and type in “rioja”.
  • A listing of Rioja wines in the app will show up. You can tap on each one to view more information, such as the wine profile.
  • After trying a wine, tap the “Rate” circle at the bottom of the screen and give it your rating. (Learn why you should rate wines here.)

More about Rioja wine from Snooth PVA bloggers:

Disclosure: My attendance at the seminar was sponsored by Snooth. Opinions expressed are my own.

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