Meet the Grape: Tempranillo (Temp-rah-NEE-yoh) is often thought of as the best red grape to come out of Spain. It makes up the majority of Riojas, where it’s blended with Garnacha and Cariñena, and is now getting worldwide renown as a single varietal for its fresh strawberry flavors mixed with vanilla. Tempranillo comes from the Spanish for “early,” referring to the fact that this grape ripens sooner than the other traditional Spanish varietals. Big, sensuous oak-aged versions continue to be respected and enjoyed while juicy, fresh modern styles are on the rise.
Kielbasa es Deliciosa: Tempranillo is easy drinking due to low acid and tannins and is usually paired with Spanish tapas like chorizo and flavorful Spanish cheeses. Though I normally wouldn’t mention Spain and Poland in the same breath, it’s not such a stretch to think of kielbasa and cheese-filled pierogies as “Polish tapas.” Having pungent sauerkraut? Try a lighter Tempranillo.
One Under Ten: The 2004 Carril de Cotos Tinto for $8.95 was fermented in steel tanks, as opposed to oak, giving this Tempranillo a pure, flowery, sweet cherry bouquet.