White and Rosé Rioja Wines and Food

Food Pairing

Rioja wines are known for being very food friendly. Read on to find out what foods will pair well with the different kinds of white and rosé Rioja wines.

Stainless-steel fermented white Rioja
Light, crisp, modern-style white Riojas are fermented in stainless steel vats and are released after only a few months of bottle aging. These wines deliver extraordinary value and consistency. Made primarily with the native Viura grape variety, occasionally supplemented by Malvasia and Garnacha Blanca

Flavor:
Clean and citrusy with aromas of fresh stone fruit (peach, apricot), ripe pears and green apples.

Examples:
Bodegas Riojanas
Puerta Vieja Blanco
Marqués de Cáceres Blanco

Pairing:

  • Pair with grilled chicken salad with Arugula and lemon pepper dressing; roasted beets and goat cheese salad; shrimp cocktail
  • Makes a great white sangria
  • Enjoy as a super-quaffable pre-meal aperitif on its own or with a splash of crème de cassis to make a light and lovely kir

Barrel-fermented white Rioja
Modern-style oak-aged white Riojas are fermented in 225-liter French oak barriques, often kept on their lees (spent yeast), which adds a tropical fruity richness and Champagne-like yeasty complexity.
Classic white Rioja is fermented in enormous seasoned American oak cubos, with up to ten years in bottle before release

Flavors:
Modern: Aromas of vanilla, coconut, butter, tropical fruit, and honey. A rich mouthfeel, almost creamy, good pineapple-like acidity, and a dry finish.
Classic: Expect heady and seductive aromas of honey, almonds, coconut, pineapple, and an almost petrol-like minerality.

Examples:
Modern:
Bodegas Breton
Loriñon Blanco

Classic:
López de Heredia Viña
Tondonia Blanco Gran Reserva

Pairing:
Modern:

  • Barrel-fermented white Rioja is a great Chardonnay substitute, recommended with richer fish (salmon, tuna), shellfish and stronger flavors like garlic (think codfish with garlic and clams)
  • Foods or dishes that have fruit in them (mango salsa, couscous with blond raisins and stewed chicken–think North African)
  • Most desserts

Classic:

  • Great with mushrooms
  • Asparagus
  • Lobster
  • Grilled white fish (turbot, Dover sole, halibut)

Rioja Rosado (Rosé)
Usually made with Garnacha, sometimes Tempranillo (or a blend of the two), Rioja Rosados have a barely perceptible touch of textural astringency (the result of minimal grape skin contact) and good acidity, making them surprisingly versatile food wines. Usually unoaked. Perfect for quenching your thirst on a hot day (or for conjuring summer on cold days). Just be sure to look for bottle from the most recent vintage. With very few exceptions, Rosado is not meant to age. So drink ‘em if you got ‘em.

Flavors:
Exuberant aromas of red berry fruit–think cherry and strawberry–with a dry finish

Examples:
Marqués de Riscal Rosado,
López de Heredia Viña
Tondonia
Rosado Gran Reserva, Muga
Rosado

Pairing:

  • Try with North African vegetable purees
  • peppered tuna sashimi
  • Alongside fresh goat cheese.

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