Buying Rioja Wine


Since returning from Spain recently, many readers have asked binNotes about Spanish wines. Specifically, many of you want to buy a Spanish wine, but have no idea how to decipher the myriad of choices available. Don’t despair! Spain’s Rioja region wine labels ease the process by including the following two (2) markers:

  • The DOCa” (Denominación de Origen Calificada) seal, which verifies that the wine meets the stringent qualification necessary to be labeled an authentic Rioja wine.
  • The Rioja Classification label, four (4) different colored labels describing the expected level and method of aging in barrels/bottles:
    • Joven or Cosecha (Green Label): Typically young wines 1-2 years old, focused on freshness and fruitiness. Also occasionally used to describe wines outside the other three wine categories. Easy-drinking, informal food pairing wines. (Think Beaujolais Nouveau.)
    • Crianza (Red Label): Wines ~3 years old. Red Crianza: Min. 1 year cask-aging plus several months bottle aging. White Crianza: Min. 6 mos.cask-aging. Popular, ‘go-to’, versatile daily wine that pairs well with most foods.
    • Reserva (Burgundy Label):  Aged a minimum of 3 years. Reds require at least 1 year in cask, whites 2 years min. aging  w/ 6 mos. in cask. Carefully selected, complex wines chosen for their aging potential.
    • Gran Reserva (Blue Label) Exceptional wines w/ min. 2 years oak-cask aging and 3 year bottle aging. White Gran Reserva wines require min. 4 years aging w/ at least 1 year cask-aging. Wines of depth, intensity and richness.
Hope this helps you enjoy with greater confidence those affable, affordable, accessible Spanish wines~Salud!

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