Tempranillo vs. Rioja

Last Updated on August 1st, 2023

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We are sure you have any questions about this duo, and we are here to answer all of them. Let’s get right into the specifics of the comparison between Tempranillo and Rioja.


Is Tempranillo The Same As Rioja?

Maybe! Depending on how you view these wines, you could say yes or no! Although they have different notes, styles, and alcohol content, Rioja is still a blend of wines, with one being closer than you might think. 

So let’s get into the similarities, differences, and everything in between. 


What Is Similar About Tempranillo And Rioja?

These two wines share similarities in origin, notes, and food pairings. Tempranillo and Rioja both originate from Spain and share a savory note of dill and also cherry. Both of these wines are also known to pair well with lamb.

It would be easy to say that these wines don’t have many similarities, but don’t be too quick to make that assumption. Keep in mind that Rioja is a wine blended with others, the most prominent one being Tempranillo. 


What Is The Difference Between Tempranillo And Rioja?

These wines hold differences in alcohol content, notes, and style. Tempranillo is styled to be a dry wine that holds savory notes of cherry, fig, tobacco, and dill. Rioja is not on its own. 

It’s a blend of wines together, most commonly made into not only red but also white and rose-styled wines. Rioja holds base notes of cherry, plum, leather, dill, and vanilla. 


Which One Is Sweeter Or Drier Than The Other?

For many, it’s Rioja that is seemingly more sweet in taste in comparison to straight Tempranillo. The reason for this is because Tempranillo does tend to have more savory notes, which present themselves to be drier within the wine. 

So even if a large majority of Rioja is made up of Tempranillo, it still has the notes of those other wines to make it sweeter in taste than the straight Tempranillo. 


Which One Has More Alcohol Content?

Unlike most of the comparisons between wines, this duo does not line up, nor does it vary. It is indeed, without a doubt, Rioja carries more alcohol content. 

Tempranillo tends to carry an average of 13.5-15% alcohol by volume, while Rioja is known to carry an average of around 18% alcohol by volume – and no, we aren’t kidding!


How Do I Choose Between Tempranillo And Rioja?

Tempranillo is a good choice if you are planning Mexican cuisine for your next dinner party. Your guests will be grateful for this experience. Also, if you yourself prefer dryer wines with more savory notes, Tempranillo is the better choice between this duo. 

However, if you’re looking for something sweeter with more alcohol content for a fun night with your guests, the better choice for you would be a Rioja. 

When choosing the Rioja, you’re still getting those notes of dill and cherry within the Tempranillo, but just a slightly sweeter version. 


Final Thoughts On Tempranillo And Rioja

Considering Rioja is made up of a majority of Tempranillo, you could say they are the same, but that doesn’t change the fact that they have their differences in notes, style, and alcohol content. 

Not only is Rioja considered to be sweeter than Tempranillo, but it also has a significantly higher alcohol content.