A Guide to Tempranillo Wine & Our Top 7 Picks Under $30!

tempranillo wine

Tempranillo (“tehm-prah-NEE-yoh”) is one of the most popular red wines in the world. It’s the King of Spanish Red Wine! Spain is the leading producer of Tempranillo, accounting for 87% of the world’s supply.

So next time you’re having a fantastic Paella, you’ll know what wine to serve it with.

In this article, we will discuss everything you need to know about Tempranillo wine! We’ll also recommend our Top 7 favorites!

So whether you’re a beginner or an expert, read on for all you need to know about Tempranillo! And if you are interested in Spanish white wines, check this out!

Table of Contents

What is Tempranillo?

tempranillo thought to be pinot noir cuttings

Tempranillo is a red wine grape that is native to Spain. The name “Tempranillo” comes from the Spanish word temprano, which means “early”. This is because Tempranillo grapes ripen earlier than most other red wine grapes.

The majority of Tempranillo wines come from Spain, where the grape is often referred to as “Spain’s noble grape”.

Because it’s the most widely planted grape variety amongst Spanish red wines. And it’s the main grape used in famous Spanish wine regions like Rioja and Ribera del Duero.

What are the Tempranillo Wine Regions?

Spain Wine Regions Map Tempranillo grape regions

As mentioned above, the regions of Rioja and Ribera del Duero are particularly well-known for their Tempranillo wines.


Rioja (‘ree-oh-ha’) is the most well-known region for producing Tempranillo. It’s located in northern Spain and is divided into three sub-regions: Rioja Alta, Rioja Oriental (formerly known as Baja), and Rioja Alavesa.

Each sub-region has its own climate, soil type, and topography which results in slightly different Tempranillo wines from each area.

Tempranillo from the Rioja region delivers medium to full bodied red wines, with flavors of red fruits, cherries, plums, and dried fruits with hints of tobacco and vanilla.

Classification of Rioja Reds

  • Crianza – aged in oak barrels and bottles must be a minimum of two (2) years
  • Reserva – aged in oak barrels and bottles must be a minimum of three (3) years
  • Gran Reserva – oak aging in barrels for a minimum of two (2) years PLUS aged in bottle for additional three (3) years

Ribera del Duero

Ribera del Duero is located in the north-central region of Spain. And the climate here is continental with extreme temperatures from very hot summers to bitterly cold winters with rocky terrain in high altitudes. In fact, it’s one of Spain’s most prestigious wine regions that makes amazing wines.

Known for its full-bodied and robust Tempranillo wines, they have even darker fruit flavors like blackberry, cassis, leather, spice, and plums with smoky notes and strong tannins. Plus, it’s home to some of the most well-known and expensive Tempranillo wines in the world, such as Vega Sicilia.

Outside of Spain, the grape is also grown in Portugal, Australia, California and Chile. In Portugal, the grape is known as Aragonês.

Tempranillo Wine Taste Profile

Tempranillo flavors

As you will see, Tempranillo wines can vary greatly in taste, depending on the region where they are produced, how long they have been aged, and what other grapes they are blended with.

But in general, Tempranillo  are medium to full-bodied with moderate to high tannins. They often have many flavors and aromas of dark red cherries, blackberries, dried fruit, earth, tobacco, leather, spice, vanilla, and oak.

Tempranillo wines can be aged for many years, which often results in even more complex flavors and aromas.

Our 7 Best Tempranillo Wines Under $30

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1) Muga Reserva (Most Popular)

Muga Reserva Rioja

One of the most popular Rioja wines in the US market. This wine has a beautiful deep purple hue. Its classic Rioja flavors of dark plums and berries, with vanilla, chocolate, sweet tobacco & oak create an fantastic wine. Always a good choice from a well-known producer, that will satisfy any wine enthusiast!

2) La Rioja Alta Viña Alberdi Reserva 2018 (Best Overall)

La Rioja Alta Viña Alberdi Reserva 2018

Another popular award-winning Rioja in the US market. This classic Rioja has a deep ruby red color with aromas of ripe cherries, pepper, tobacco and leather. It is rich, smooth, and complex with subtle tannins and a long finish.

3) Bodegas Montegaredo Crianza 2017 (Best Crianza)

Bodegas Montegaredo Montegaredo Crianza 2017

This Ribera del Duero wine shows what the region can produce and it is simply stunning. This deep red colored wine has a beautiful nose with blackberry and cherry, and its well-balanced. You’ll also enjoy hints of oak, vanilla, chocolate, leather, and tobacco.

4) Palacio de Otoño Rioja Reserva 2016 (Best Reserva)

This oak-aged Spanish Tempranillo is an award-winning wine that features aromas of sweet tobacco spice, vanilla and chocolate. The flavor profile includes red plum flavors with a rich and smooth finish.

5) Emilio Moro Ribera del Duero 2019 (Best Ribera)

Emilio Moro Ribera del Duero 2019

This beautiful, earthy wine has plenty of flavors! You will get some vanilla, blackberry, cherry, plum, smoke, oak, and hint of licorice.

6) Bodegas Olarra Cerro Añon Reserva Rioja (Best Value)

Bodegas Olarra Cerro Añon Reserva Rioja

This Tempranillo has a dark red color with aromas of cherry, vanilla and cedar. It is a rich, well-balanced Rioja Reserva that is versatile with great flavor.

7) Dominio de Cair Selección La Aguilera 2016

Dominio de Cair Selección La Aguilera 2016

This is a full-bodied and concentrated wine that creates a beautiful, ripe-tasting wine with blackcurrant, blackberry flavors and cedar undertones.

What is a Tempranillo wine similar to?

If you enjoy any of the following wines, you will likely also enjoy Tempranillo.

  • Grenache
  • Merlot
  • Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Malbec

Is Tempranillo wine sweet or dry?

Most Tempranillo wines are dry, with very little residual sugar.

Is Tempranillo good wine?

Yes, Tempranillo is considered a very good Spanish wine. It is a noble red wine grape that is known as Spain’s King of Wine. Both Rioja and Ribera del Duero excel in producing high quality Tempranillo wines that can compete with the best of wines globally.

What are Tempranillo Food Pairings?

Tempranillo food pairings

Tempranillo is a versatile Spanish wine that can be enjoyed with a variety of foods.


Tempranillo wine is a popular and highly regarded Spanish wine variety, but also found in other parts of the world.

Tempranillo wines are full-bodied with dark fruit and earthy flavors. And they are characterized by their high acidity and tannins that give them a good aging potential. While often blended with other grape varieties to create complex and balanced wines.

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