Header photo: City of Wine complex at Marqués de Riscal in Elciego, Spain

What is Rioja?

The first thing that comes to mind when thinking of Spanish wine is most likely Rioja. You may have heard the words “Crianza”, “Reserva” or “Gran Reserva” thrown about when it comes to Rioja, but what do they actually mean?


Bottle of Crianza

Aging: at least 1 year in oak and 1 year in the bottle

Style: fruit-forward, easy daily-drinking wine

Food pairing: Ibérico ham x Marqués de Riscal Arienzo Crianza

Fruit-forward Crianza brings out the nutty, earthy flavours of Ibérico ham, with the soft marbled fat of the ham melting in the mouth along with this ripe, fruit-driven wine that has a medium palate weight, integrated tannins and subtle oak notes.


Bottle of Reserva

Aging: at least 1 year in oak and 2 years in the bottle

Style: serious wine, not as fruity as Crianza, typically with a fantastic balance between tannin and acidity

Food pairing: meatballs x Marqués de Riscal Reserva

The rich flavours of Spanish meatballs require a bolder wine. Rioja Reserva is the best choice for its great concentration of fruit with savoury, spicy hints, which stand up well to the full-flavoured meatballs.

Gran Reserva

Bottle of Gran ReservaAging: at least 2 years in oak and 3 years in the bottle

Style: most tannin structure and age-worthy potential; an integrated and complex wine

Food pairing: steak x Marqués de Riscal Gran Reserva

Steak, especially fatter cuts of beef, matches particularly well with an aged Rioja such as Gran Reserva, which has the most tannins and weight compared to Crianza and Reserva. The tannins cut through the fat of the meat and cleanse the palate.

About Marqués de Riscal:

  • Founded in 1860, Marqués de Riscal is the oldest winery in Rioja and considered one of the benchmarks of the region.
  • It’s the first non-French winery to win the Diploma of Honour at the Bordeaux International Exhibition.
  • Riscal is famous for its wine as well as its futuristic building known as the City of Wine, designed by renowned Canadian-American architect Frank Gehry. It is one of the most photographed pieces of architecture in Spain (see top image).

Where to find Marqués de Riscal:

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