All About Tempranillo

tempranilloThe couple had been sitting at the restaurant’s bar for just over 90 minutes.

They’d been noshing on an array of tapas — mushroom carpaccio with wasabi vinaigrette, a mini Spanish omelet with chorizo sausage, fried eggplant with honey, chicken croquettes — all washed down with glasses of white-wine sangria and Spain’s signature red wine, Tempranillo.

All of the selections — the food and the wine — had been carefully curated by two enthusiastic young ladies from, ironically, Peru. Ironic because this tapas bar was in Barcelona. The staffers had immigrated to Spain seeking a better way of life, and had found it working at this restaurant a few blocks removed from Barcelona’s main tourist thoroughfare, Las Ramblas.

Tipping is not something that is done in Spain’s restaurants, but the couple (from the United States) felt compelled to thank the young ladies for their excellent service, and tucked the equivalent of a $10 tip under their payment slip as they prepared to depart.

“Wait! Wait!” the young ladies yelled in unison after seeing what the couple had done. “Please, just one more dish.”

They poured fresh glasses of Tempranillo, then brought out a simply prepared plate of lamb, grilled to perfection, lightly seasoned and drizzled with olive oil from the frying pan. The couple stayed for another half-hour, savoring the melt-in-their-mouths bites of lamb and sipping the complementary (and complimentary) Spanish Tempranillo.

Lamb may be the only thing you really need to know about Tempranillo. If you love lamb, Tempranillo is an ideal wine-pairing partner.

The variety has a tannin structure, similar to Cabernet Sauvignon’s, that enables it to “stand up” to hearty meats, including beef. Those tannins also enable it to age for several years before revealing its full flavor spectrum.

Younger Tempranillo wines typically are bursting with red cherry flavor. As they age, they become more complex, adding earthy notes. If aged in American oak barrels, a vanilla flavor emerges over time.

Tempranillo is one of those varieties that doubles as a satisfying sipping wine or a compelling companion to food — particularly, as that couple in Barcelona discovered, lamb-based dishes.

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Posted in Our Wine Travel Log, Wine in the Glass

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