Getting to know Tempranillo

Last weekend, we shared a couple bottles of Artesa 2007 Limited Release Tempranillo with our friends Sarah and Dave. It was a perfect pairing with a grilled flat iron steak, au gratin potatoes, and an arugula and tomato salad. Cherry flavors gave way to hints of clove and earthiness with mild tannins.

The wine was outstanding and went down way too easily.

Two sad, empty bottles of Tempranillo the morning after a great dinner with friends.

Tempranillo is a wonderful, versatile grape. It goes well with a lot of food and is generally reasonably priced. It was even the red wine served at the Service Failure book release party held at Village Vino.

It's also relatively unknown to most casual wine drinkers.  Here’s a quick guide to help you discover the grape on your own. 


According to Wine Searcher, nearly half of the world’s Tempranillo production comes from Spain, where it is the most popular varietal in Rioja wines. It’s also catching on in other regions such as the US, Australia, and Argentina. The grape does best in places with hot days and cool nights. 


Typical fruit flavors include cherry and plum with hints of spice, leather, and tobacco. Tannins are moderate while acidity is high, making this a wine that’s typically better with food than on its own.


Steak is definitely high on our list and anything off the grill will go nicely. Check out this wide range of additional suggestions from Wine Folly:

  • Lasagna, Pizza and dishes with tomato-based sauces
  • Grits, Polenta and dishes with corn as a major ingredient
  • Mexican food such as tacos, nachos, burritos and chile rellenos

Give it a try!

If you’d like to give it a try, we recommend Volver Tempranillo. This is an excellent under $20 selection that is widely distributed. Look for it in BevMo, Total Wine, Specs, and many other retail locations.

Sadly, Artesa’s Tempranillo is no more. (If you find a few bottles, please share some!)

Posted on October 19, 2013 and filed under Under $20, Wine Discoveries.