What is Tempranillo?

Tempranillo is a red wine grape varietal of the species Vitis vinifera Tempranillo. These wines are rich with lots of cherry flavour, high tannin, alcohol and body.

In this post, we’ll cover some quick facts on the Tempranillo wine varietal and give you an in-depth analysis of the wine profile to help you understand the Vitis vinifera Tempranillo grape variety.


Table of Contents




Quick Facts About the Tempranillo Grape Variety




Tempranillo ranges from medium ruby to a ruddy hue. This wine is not quite as deep in colour as Syrah but maintains a slight translucency much like Pinot Noir.



Wine Body Type

Tempranillo can be classified as a medium-to-full bodied wine.



Is Tempranillo wine sweet?

Tempranillo is considered a dry wine as it has less residual sugar left over after fermentation.


Flavours & Aromas

  • Fruit: sour cherry, strawberry, dried fruit
  • Herbal: black pepper, dill
  • oak: cedar, vanilla, cigar box, cinnamon
  • mineral/earthy: mushroom, forest floor, wet stone


Food Pairings

What food goes best with Tempranillo?

Tempranillo is a great wine to pair with hearty stews, paella and more. Try these food pairings with your Tempranillo:

Wine & Cheese Pairings for Tempranillo: This wine is very fruity and low in acidity, so they can pair with almost any type of cheese. More often, Tempranillo is paired with Spanish cheese due to Terroir.
Meat Pairings for Tempranillo: Braised Meat (Beef, Game), Duck, Chorizo Sausage
Pinot Noir & Vegetable Pairing: Mushrooms


How to Serve this Wine

Tempranillo is best served at 12 – 15°C (55 – 60°F).


Comparable Wine Styles

What is Tempranillo similar to?

Try a Tempranillo wine, if you like Cabernet Sauvignon or Chianti.

Is Rioja the same as Tempranillo?

Essentially. Rioja is a blend of different Spanish grape varieties that is usually Tempranillo dominant.


How To Pronounce “Tempranillo”



Where are the best Tempranillo wines from?

Top Tempranillo Producing Wine Regions

Old World Regions

  • Spain
  • Portugal
  • France

New World Regions

  • Argentina
  • Australia
  • some plantings in North America


Our Favourite Examples of this Wine Variety


(VIDEO) Everything You Need to Know About Tempranillo in 90 Seconds



Advanced Wine Profile on the Tempranillo Grape Variety


The Origin of the Grape Name

What is the scientific name for Tempranillo?

The scientific name for Tempranillo is Vitis vinifera var ‘Tempranillo’. Tempranillo translates to “little early one” because it ripens earlier than other grapes in the region.


Synonyms of the Tempranillo Wine Varietal

Ull de Llebre, Cencibel, Tinta del Pais & Tinta Fina, Valdepeñas, Tinto del Toro, Tinta Roriz, Aragones, Tinta Aragoneza, Arinto Tinto, Tinta Roriz, Tinta de Santiago, Rioja, Ribera del Duero, Crianza, Reserva, Gran Reserva, many others specific to the region it comes from – mainly in Spain


Where do Tempranillo grapes come from?

The best wine regions where Tempranillo Grapes are grown

As a native grape to northern Spain, Tempranillo grapes are primarily grown in there. The two major wine regions that grow Tempranillo are Rioja, in north-central Spain, and Ribera del Duero.

Other regions well known for producing high-quality Tempranillo are: Penedès, Navarra, and Valdepeñas in Spain and Central Alentejo and the Douro in Portugal.


Tasting Profile Of Tempranillo Grape Variety

What are the characteristics of Tempranillo?


The Appearance

What does Tempranillo look like?

Brilliant ruby red in colour, Tempranillo wines are slightly translucent, meaning they tend to look lighter-bodied than they actually are. This is because they are large grapes with thick skins, so the flavour is big but the body isn’t necessarily so. They contain higher amounts of anthocyanins, which contributes to the brilliance of colour in the wine. Age is important to Tempranillo, and because of the oak ageing it often receives, it can carry a slightly orange tinge on the outer rims.

Aroma, Flavours & Mouthfeel

What does Tempranillo taste like?

The fruit is predominant, with bright ripe cherries, strawberries, and plums. Other flavours could include tomato, leather, clove and because of the oak ageing, vanilla, coconut, and leather. While these aromas and flavours are apparent, the overall varietal wines are fairly neutral, so Tempranillo is often blended with other varietals like Garnacha (Grenache), and Graciano (Carignan), and Cabernet Sauvignon. The addition of these wines gives Tempranillo structure, tannins, and length of flavour. Tempranillo is a medium to full body wine with moderate tannins and acidity.


Grape Variety Terroir


In what conditions does Tempranillo grow? Where does Tempranillo grow best?

Tempranillo grows predominantly in Spain and Portugal, in moderate to hot climates. It generally does better at slightly higher and cooler elevations, because if the grape is too ripe from the superheated full-day sun, it loses much of its acidity and can be “flat”. Given hot day sun and cool nights, the grape develops balanced levels of sugars and acidity. Ribera del Duro, one of Spain’s most well-known regions for quality wines and Tempranillo, is the perfect example of the ideal climate – moderate to high temps during the day (often reaching 40 degrees Celsius/100+ Fahrenheit) with large dips in temperatures overnight, sometimes dropping by more than half the daytime high. This allows the grape ample hang time in full, hot sun to develop sugars and ripeness and cooler overnight temps to balance the acidity.


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Biology of the Grape Variety

Tempranillo was given its name, which translates to “little early one”, because it ripens before other grapes are grown in the same regions, like Garnacha. It’s is a vigorous plant and requires a consistent pruning regimen to keep the best quality fruits on the vines.


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