Tempranillo Food Pairing: 16 Best Matches

Tempranillo Food Pairing

Tempranillo pairs well with many different types of food. Sommeliers have a saying, if it grows together, it goes together. Since it is the dominant red grape in Spain and Portugal, Tempranillo is a great match with tapas, cured meats, and linguica. A young fruity Tempranillo pairs nicely with lighter dishes like legumes, or fish in tomato broth. An aged bold Tempranillo is best with grilled meats. Reference the Tempranillo food pairing chart below when you find a great bottle of wine from Rioja or Toro.

tempranillo food pairing
Try pairing Tempranillo with cured meats like jamon or an array of charcuterie.

Foods that pair well with Tempranillo

  • Roasted lamb, grilled lamb, smoked lamb, lamb burgers…you get the idea
  • Grilled pork chops
  • Vegetarian lasagna
  • Roast beef sandwiches
  • Cochinillo asado (suckling pig)
  • Jamon
  • Prosciutto 
  • Pollo al ajillo (garlic chicken)
  • Manchego cheese
  • Cocido madrileño (garbanzo bean and meat stew)
  • Pepperoni pizza
  • Frijoles with herbs and spices
  • Aged Parmesan cheese
  • Moroccan cuisine 
  • Caldo Verde (Portuguese Soup with linguica and kale)
  • Butternut Squash Tortelli

Characteristics of Tempranillo to Consider when Pairing Food

Tempranillo is medium to full bodied so needs dishes that are equal to it in weight. Therefore Tempranillo pairs best with heavier dishes like meats and stews.

Tempranillo is fairly acidic. Acid cuts through fat so Tempranillo is a good match with fatty meats like lamb and pork. The acidity in Tempranillo pairs well with tomato based dishes as well.

Tempranillo has medium to high tannins. This means that Tempranillo food pairings should include foods with protein like meat and cheese.

For more wine and food pairing tips, click here

Tempranillo and lamb are a match made in heaven

Where is Tempranillo from?

The Tempranillo grape makes the best wines of Spain and Portugal. You can also find Tempranillo planted in other Mediterranean (re: warm) climates throughout the world. Every region in Spain and Portugal that grows it has its own name for it, usually referring to the color “tinta” meaning red. So if you see any of these names on a label it’s the regional name for Tempranillo: Cencibel, Tinta Roriz, Tinta de Toro, Tinto Fino, and Aragonês in Portugal. Tempranillo itself gets its name from the Spanish word, temprano, meaning early because Tempranillo is an earlier ripening grape.  

Vineyards in the Rioja region of Spain

In Rioja, they blend Tempranillo with Garnacha (the Spanish name for Grenache) for their famous lush wines. It is also the dominant grape in the bold wines of the Ribera Del Duero region. Tempranillo smells like cherries and berries with earthy notes. The palate is middle of the road tannins, acids, and body. It’s a very versatile wine with lots of dishes and cuisines.

Tempranillo grapes

What does Tempranillo Taste like?

Tempranillo can make a few different styles of wine; medium bodied fruity wines and full bodied spicy wines. Generally speaking though Tempranillo has a lot of bright cherry flavors. Winemakers love maturing Tempranillo in oak, especially American oak which brings out coconut and cedar flavors as well. Tempranillo has a lot of acidity and tannins which makes it a great wine with food.

Serving Suggestions for Tempranillo

Tempranillo should be served at about 60F/15C or in other words, stick it in the fridge for 20 minutes before serving. The lower temperature will decrease the perception of alcohol which Tempranillo usually has a lot of. A universal red wine glass is just fine for Tempranillo. Older Tempranillo will benefit from being decanted.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does Tempranillo go with steak?

Yes! Tempranillo would get best with a tender cut of steak like filet mignon. It’s also great with hamburgers.

What is Tempranillo similar to?

Tempranillo is often described as neutral. This doesn’t do the grape justice. Tempranillo is more versatile and presents differently in different climates. Tempranillo in its youth could be compared to a young Chianti. A Tempranillo from Ribera del Duero could be compared to a Zinfandel. Aged Riojas can be compared to quality Barolo.

Is Tempranillo dry or sweet?

Tempranillo is dry but has a lot of fruity characteristics.

November 12th is International Tempranillo Day

Grab a bottle of Rioja or Ribera del Duero and serve up some tapas for International Tempranillo Day! It is always celebrated on November 12th. For a full list of wine variety days and wine holidays click here.

What’s your favorite Tempranillo food pairing? Leave it in the comments for other readers to have even more choices when deciding what food to have with Tempranillo.

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5 thoughts on “Tempranillo Food Pairing: 16 Best Matches”

  1. This is great for next time I throw a dinner party, probably in 2022!). Despite being Portuguese, I’m admittedly not a fan of wine, so I always struggle with what to get for my guests that goes well with whatever I’m cooking. This will be a good departure from the options I usually offer them: tap water and tap water with ice. I’m sure they’ll appreciate it! 🙂

    1. Tap water with ice is a delicacy in some countries, haha!
      I’m happy to help you out whenever you need. Shoot me a message of what you’re making and I’ll find you the perfect wine.

  2. would a tempranillo based wine, say a Rioja, pair well with a pork stew of braised pork, carelized onions, and stewed apricots?

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