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All About Tempranillo Wine

Everyday Food, May 2007

Explore Spain with a pour of wine made from the country's most popular grape. Drink some with nuts and cheese, or pair it with tonight's dinner.

At the Store
Tempranillo (pronounced tem-prah-NEE-yoh) wines often taste of berries and spice and are typically well-balanced, making them ideal to drink with food. The Tempranillo grape was traditionally blended into many Spanish wines, especially those from Rioja, Navarra, and Ribera del Duero. Now single-variety Tempranillos are being produced in Spain (as well as in Australia and Argentina). You can find young ones for less than $10 a bottle; those aged in oak may cost more.

On the Label
Tempranillo sometimes goes by other names (depending on the region in Spain). As you shop, read labels for these aliases: Cencibel, Tinto del Pais, Tinto Fino, Tinto de Toro, and Tinto Madrid.

For Starters
In Spain, Tempranillo is often enjoyed with tapas (a meal made up of "little dishes"). Because tapas include a wide range of flavors, offering them with Tempranillo speaks to its adaptability. For an easy entertaining idea, open a bottle to serve alongside Spanish-style appetizers bought from the grocery store. Traditional partners to consider: Manchego cheese, almonds (look for Marcona, which are usually blanched and roasted and sometimes fried in olive oil), dry sausage, Serrano ham, and olives.

With the Main Course
Tempranillos -- single varieties and blends -- are luscious enough to stand up to an array of foods. Try them with basics such as pasta and rice dishes, roasted meat or chicken, and even omelets, including Spanish tortas and Italian frittatas.

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