Tempranillo pairs best with Spanish Tapas, Chorizo, Lamb, Duck and Steak.  Featuring aromas of cassis, plum, black cherry, tobacco, mocha and caramel, Tempranillo is a meat lover’s dream.

Tempranillo pairing also comes with some warnings.  The region where Tempranillo is grown and how it is produced and aged makes a huge difference in what you can pair it with.

Tempranillo refers to the grape itself, and the most popular Tempranillo you will find are in the Rioja, Ribera del Duero and Toro regions of Spain.  Tempranillo is also grown in Argentina, Portugal (where it’s added to a port called Aragonez), California, and Washington State.

Best Food with Tempranillo

TempranilloChili, Texas Style
Tempranillo ReservaSteak Sirloin
Tempranillo ReservaLamb Chops
Tempranillo CrianzaBalghur-o adas
Tempranillo CrianzaDevilled Kidneys
TempranilloSteak and Kidney Pie
TempranilloPaella Valenciana
TempranilloChicken Wings
TempranilloLamb Shank
TempranilloFajitas De Carne
Tempranillo, SpainBo Luc Lac - Vietnamese Grilled Beef Cubes
TempranilloBeef Burrito
TempranilloDuck Roasted
TempranilloSteak and Monkeygland Sauce
Tempranillo CrianzaDroëwors
TempranilloIrish Stew
Tempranillo CrianzaBiltong
TempranilloRibollita Soup
TempranilloFrench Navarin of Lamb
Tempranillo, SpainBò Nhúng Dấm - Beef Hot Pot
Tempranillo CrianzaSteak in a creamy Pepper Sauce
Tempranillo, SpainKashmiri Chicken Korma
Tempranillo ReservaRossini
Tempranillo ReservaOsso Buco
Tempranillo ReservaElk Steak
Tempranillo ReservaRibeye Steak
TempranilloBrinjal Parmigiana
TempranilloProsciutto wrapped Roasted Chicken
Tempranillo, SpainThit kho - Braised pork with egg
Tempranillo ReservaBlack Forest Ham
Tempranillo ReservaOxtail
TempranilloLamb Burgers
TempranilloChorizo Sausage
TempranilloEscargots a la Gourmande
Tempranillo ReservaGrilled Portobello Mushrooms
TempranilloPulled Pork
TempranilloTurkey Sausage
Tempranillo, SpainBo Kho - Vietnamese Beef Stew
Tempranillo CrianzaPanino
TempranilloMeat Lovers Pizza
Tempranillo CrianzaHam
TempranilloSwedish Meatballs
TempranilloRed Bell Pepper
TempranilloPorcini Mushrooms
TempranilloBeef Tacos
Tempranillo ReservaNoisettes of Lamb
TempranilloChicken Jambalaya
Tempranillo, SpainBeef Tacos
Tempranillo CrianzaSeafood Jambalaya
TempranilloAncho Chilie
Tempranillo CrianzaKassler Chops
TempranilloChipotle Chilie
TempranilloShitake Mushrooms
TempranilloGreen Bell Pepper
Tempranillo CrianzaFried Chicken
TempranilloScalloped Potatoes

What is the Difference between Rioja and Ribera del Duero?

The main difference between Rioja and Ribera del Duero is that Rioja is softer and tastes fresher with more aromas of strawberry and raspberry.  Ribera del Duero features more alcohol, tannin and black fruit.  Ribera del Duero will dry out your tongue with its tannin and comes across as leathery.

Toro, which is another region from Spain that produces Tempranillo wines are even bigger and more tannic than Ribera del Duero.

For specific food pairings, view my blogs of the best food pairings with Rioja and the best food matches with Ribera del Duero.

Classifications of Tempranillo

Tempranillo range from having little oak to 18 to 24 months of oak ageing, plus four years of bottle ageing.  The amount of oak makes a huge difference in what you should pair the wine with.  For example, age-oaked wines are amazing with grilled foods, as the wines will have notes of leather, smoke, and caramel.

Robel/Tinto is a Tempranillo you’ll probably never come across unless you are in Spain.  This is an inexpensive bottle of Tempranillo and has been aged for a couple months in oak.

Crianza is a classification of Tempranillo that is released after two years of ageing, with a minimum of six months in oak barrels.  Expect a soft wine with fresher flavours of strawberry and raspberry.

Reserva Tempranillo is sold after three years of ageing, and it must spend one year in oak.  Reserva will feature darker fruit flavours and more earth, leather and spice notes than Crianza Tempranillo.

Gran Reserva Tempranillo is released after five or more years of ageing and a minimum of two years in oak. Furthermore, Gran Reserve wines are only made when there is an exceptional vintage, so there will not be a new vintage every year. You’ll pay much more money for this bottle as it features deep notes of herbs, leather, tobacco, mocha and cocoa.

Tempranillo & Food Pairings

The age of your Tempranillo will determine the best pairing. For example, younger Tempranillo has less complex flavours, so they aren’t suited for heavy or complicated meals.

For Young Tempranillo that are fresh and fruity, we’d recommend simple meaty dishes like chicken wings, meat lovers pizza, tapas, chimichangas, bacon, ham, beef burritos, beef tacos, chilli , and pulled pork.

Reserva Tempranillo deserves meatier dishes that are complex and flavourful.  I’d pair Reserva Tempranillo with a Rack of Lamb, Grilled Venison, Beef Wellington, or a Sirloin Steak.

Gran Reserva is expensive and deserves something meaty, expensive and powerful such as Prime Rib (when aged between 5-10 years), Filet Mingon (when aged for ten plus years), Beef Bourguignon, and grilled Lamb Chops are tried and true pairings. A Gran Reserva Tempranillo may cost you over a hundred dollars when adequately aged, making it perfect for meaty dishes that are rich and flavourful.