Happy Tempranillo Day!

Happy Tempranillo Day!

Before you head out to your next tailgate, grab a bottle of Tempranillo wine.

It pairs perfectly with those loaded nachos and just loves grilled meat. Yep, we said it. Oh sure it also pairs perfectly with cheese and white-napkin meals, but we prefer the food you can eat standing up.

And while you can spend hundreds of dollars on a top-rated bottle of Tempranillo (tem-prah-NEE-yoh), you can also pick a great one for under $20.

Even better, while most grapes have a national holiday, this is one of the few that goes global. International Tempranillo Day is November 12 so you should definitely pour a glass to celebrate.

And here’s 5 more reasons why.

1. It’s the big cheese in most wines from Spain and Portugal

Including Port. (And speaking of cheese, cut yourself a piece of Manchego with your next glass of Tempranillo. Holy yum.)

Tempranillo is the main grape in most Spanish wines and acts much like Cabernet Sauvignon does in many wines from Bordeaux because it’s the backbone of the wine. In Bordeaux, Merlot is added as the softening agent, In Spain, its Garnacha — or Grenache is blended in.

2. It’s old as dirt but doesn’t taste like it.

Like 1100 BC old. At least that’s the first record of its existence in Spain. It’s been cultivated for at least 200 years though.

And if you still remember Spanish class, temprano translates to "early."  So as you can surmise, this grape tends to ripens earlier than most Spanish red grapes

It has thin skin so the color may not be to deep. And it has a pretty neutral taste. That is until it gets in those oak barrels. Then the wine takes on those vanilla and coconut flavors of the barrel.

The younger wines have a more red fruit flavor, whereas you’ll taste more black fruit with the older wines.

3. Tempranillo is in some of the world’s greatest wines.

While there are tons of amazing values in Spain, it is also home to some of the world’s greatest wines.

Take the Vega Sicilia's Unico, one of the most iconic Spanish wines. And a collectible in most high-end cellars. The Vega Sicilia Unico Tinto 2008 will cost you around $370 but you won’t be disappointed in 10 years when you open it.

4. Quick word on the the label.

While the grape is planted everywhere now — from Mexico to Israel &mdash the bottles from Spain are labeled differently.

You may see Crianza, Reserva or Gran Reserva on a Spanish Tempranillo.

Bascially, Crianzas are the youngest and fresh, ripe wines.

Reserva and Gran Reserva are older and will have more flavors of spice and the barrel the longer they are in it.

And and much like P. Diddy, the grape has a ton of names, which you may also see on the bottle. For instance in Spain it goes by Tinto Fino, Tinto del Pais, Tinto de Toro to name a few and in Portugal some of its many monikers are Aragones, Aragonez, Tinta Aragoneza.

5. And finally, the food.

Because Tempranillo can have a lot of oak in its flavor, grilled anything — vegetables and meats — will work great.

All Mexican food — yes, including TacoBell — loves a big glass of Tempranillo. So does anything with a tomato-based sauce, like pasta or pizza .

So go grab a bottle of Tempranillo before your next tailgate. Your charred meat will thank you.

3 Tempranillo Wines

CVNE Crianza 2012, Rioja, Spain, $16
Cherry and vanilla flavors with spice, cedar and tobacco notes.

Marques de Riscal Rioja Reserva 2010, Rioja, Spain, $18
Light chocolate, berry and cherry aromas and flavors. Medium body, silky finish.

La Rioja Alta Gran Reserva 904 Tinto 2005, Rioja, Spain, $55
Complex, more intense. Vanilla, mocha, smoky, nice long finish.

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