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Wine Craft: Tempranillo – The Red Wine You Should Be Drinking

This blog is a continuation of a previous post I have written called Wine Craft: Syrah Recommendations for Cab and Pinot Lovers.

I have spent the last eight years selling thousands of red wine bottles across the country, and I’ve found that – generally speaking – you can divide red wine lovers into two categories: those who love lighter-bodied wines similar to soft, fruity Pinot Noirs, and those who prefer fuller-bodied wines similar to big, bold Cabernet Sauvignon

Are there some red drinkers who aren’t afraid to branch out? Absolutely! But the majority of average (in terms of wine knowledge) restaurant goers haven’t experienced much in the way of red varietals outside of their favorite Pinots Cabs. The flavors of a Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon are far apart on the spectrum and many people aren’t sure what lies in between. That makes branching out and expanding your wine repertoire a bit tricky, especially when it comes to varietals that aren’t as widely available. So which wine can bridge the gap between Pinot and Cab and leave almost every last taste bud ridiculously happy? I’m thinking Tempranillo.

What Does Tempranillo Taste Like?


Tempranillos tend to be elegant with tart cherry, blueberry, and raspberry while exuding mineral, dust, and a touch of vanilla (from the use of American oak). The wine finishes very fruity, dusty, and depending on where the wine comes from it can be soft or even dry.


Tempranillo Recommendations for the Pinot Lover


The softest of Tempranillos tend to be from Rioja. Pinot Noir lovers tend to crave wines with lots of tart cherries, hints of smoke, barnyard, and an elegant finish,  and Rioja meets those requirements in its own unique way. It’s also the softest and lightest versions of the Tempranillo grape.

  • Remelluri Rioja Reserva 2009 Tempranillo $35: BUY ME
  • Marques de Caceres Rioja Reserva 2010 $20: BUY ME

Tempranillo Recommendations for the Cabernet Lover


Cabernet Sauvignons tend to have dark fruit, cassis, mocha, tobacco, and bell pepper on the nose with a fuller body, plenty of tannins, and a fruity finish. One area in Spain represents their Tempranillos this way, and that’s Toro. In Toro, Spain, they create the fullest, earthiest and driest of wines – something Cab lovers will really enjoy.

  • Finca Sobreno Ildefonso Toro 2009 $63: BUY ME
  • Numanthia Toro 2011 $51: BUY ME

Tempranillo Recommendations In Between the Pinot and Cab Lover


My favorite wine region in Spain is Ribera del Duero. Their Tempranillos offers blueberry and blackberry with a touch of graphite and clay, and a long, full, elegant finish. This area combines softness for the Pinot lovers along with the fuller-bodied finish that Cabernet Sauvignon long for. This is such a perfect marriage!

  • Finca Villacreces Ribera del Dueo 2011 $36: BUY ME
  • Hacienda Monasterio Ribera del Duero 2012 $45: BUY ME





Mario Luna sommelierMario Luna is a Certified Sommelier and owner of Mario Luna Somm, a company dedicated to “Developing the Sommelier in You” through online wine courses, blogs, and other user-friendly content. He lives in Las Vegas where, in addition to working on the famous Las Vegas Strip, he serves as a consultant for large-scale wine events, specialty shops, and all kinds of wine tastings. You can contact Mario through or check out his online wine courses.



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