A Guide to Pairing: Tempranillo

Today marks International Tempranillo Day.  So let’s talk food pairings!

First off, a bit about Tempranillo:

  • Tempranillo is a VERY old grape, dating back to the Phoenicians over 3,000 years ago
  • Tempranillo in its name (from temprano, meaning early) indicates it’s an early ripening red grape
  • Tempranillo is the third-most planted grape in the world
  • 80% of that global volume can be found planted in Spain alone where it is considered a noble grape

That said, let’s talk food (think like a chef):

The major flavors and aromas associated with general Tempranillo are dried fig, cherry, cedar, tobacco, and sometimes even dill, but when you get to the Reserva and Gran Riserva levels, you get deeper fruit tones, dried leaves, and leather flavors.  This is an incredible flavor spectrum when thinking about food and how it will interplay with certain dishes.  It’s almost as though Tempranillo just wants to be a food wine.

So all-in-all, you’re working with fruit tones, wooded notes, leaves, and herbs. Pretty versatile, just on paper, if you ask us, and Tempranillo is widely accepted as a great food wine the world over.

Compare AND contrast:

Easy stuff first.  From a comparative pairing perspective, anything herbed, or fruited will work well.  Earthy flavors will pair in a very comparative manner as well, again, Tempranillo is a very versatile food wine due to its flavor profile and aromatic spectrum.

Contrasting pairings with Tempranillo is where it shines.

Jamón Serrano and Tempranillo.  It’s sort of a ‘what came first, the chicken or the egg?’-type of thing.  One cannot fathom one without the other and vice versa.  Trapped in an eternal dance on the palate (and umami glands).

Any red meat, including game meats, gets a boost from Tempranillo.  Much like Pinot Noir, Tempranillo doesn’t have a huge tannic structure, therefore the meat fibers are on display, and accented beautifully by the earthier elements of Tempranillo and the meat fats are cleansed by the cherry-like acidity from the wine.

Even across the pond, a wide array of meat or vegetarian Mexican dishes get a beautiful pairing from Tempranillo.  Roasted veggies, smoked peppers, mole, and their subsequent dishes, all benefit from the Spanish red (especially Chile Rellenos, a staff favorite pairing).

Hearty pasta dishes in red or meat sauces benefit from pairing with Tempranillo as well (we’re drooling just thinking of Tempranillo and lasagna), accented by its herbal nature and intermingling tomato acidity with the wine’s acidity nicely (bonus points for adding roasted veggies to your sauce for an extra benefit from a Tempranillo pairing).

When dealing with the Riserva and Gran Riserva-level Tempranillos, don’t be afraid to BBQ!  The smoked flavors are contrasted beautifully by Tempranillo’s darker fruit and leather expressions.

Get weird:

Cheddar Grits & Tempranillo.  Yup, match made in heaven, give it a try.  Actually, any corn based dish will make a great – and kinda odd sounding -pairing with Tempranillo.

So there you have it, our guide for pairing Tempranillo for International Tempranillo Day!

How about you though? For our other guests, please feel free to share your pairing suggestions for Tempranillo in the comments below.

Cheers!

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