If one had to pick a single subregion in Spain that would represent the country in its brightest viticultural light, it would undoubtedly be Rioja. It’s a breathtaking valley, where the soft breeze carries the playful sounds of local birds, and where one of the world’s most underrated and potent varietals thrives. Tempranillo is a vivacious, vibrant varietal, sometimes seen as a more fruit-forward version of Cabernet Sauvignon, and winemakers from Rioja seem to understand it on a spiritual level because drinking a fine red Rioja can be a near-religious experience. They’re as powerful and impactful as a charging bull, and as smooth and playful as the cloth that agitates it. As a result, these wines play an important part in Spanish culture and cuisine, and one can’t help but notice a historical, nostalgic sentiment as the wine unfolds in the glass.
Perhaps the most surprising thing about fine Rioja wines is how affordable they can be. While they’re no less impactful than their French competitors, they tend to fly under the radar, which results in lower prices than one would expect. This makes them a great starting point if you are just setting out on your wine adventure, and a reliable source of party-starting excitement if you’re looking to socialize.
However you want to frame it, Rioja deserves a spot in the annals of wine history, and its sheer quality mesmerizes countless people on a daily basis. Get immersed, and experience a level of satisfaction and serenity like never before.