La Rioja and Spains Rioja Wine

The Middle Ages had pilgrims who traveled on the Route of St. James or El Camino de Santiago experienced Rioja wines. The eighteenth century laid the foundation and expanded the Rioja wine industry. However, it was not until the nineteenth century the Rioja wine developed into the most recognized Spanish wine.

In 1782, Manuel Esteban Quintano from Labastida was ordained as a priest. As Quintano’s career grew, later Dean of the Cathedral of Burgos, so did his contribution to Rioja winemaking. Around 1785, Quintano traveled to France to study techniques of winemaking in Bordeaux. Returning home to Spain, Quintano brought back with him technical learning on the use of French oak barrels and grape destemming techniques1.

1795, Quintano had good success and was authorized to ship to the Spanish America. ‘Quintano made his first 10 barrels and over 1000 bottles.’ Challenges happened and resistance of change by local growers (Villa y Vecinos de La Bastida) forced Quintano to approach the Royal Council of Castile, in 1804.2

The 1860’s French wine industry was nearly devastated by the phylloxera bug threatening over 2.5 million hectors of grapes. The French botanist Jules-Émile Planchon and American entomologist Charles Riley made great discoveries on how to remedy losses caused by these little bugs.3

Since April 1991 Rioja wines are protected under Spain’s DOCa (Denominación de Origen Calificada); Spanish wine highest level of classification.4 The DOCa governs marketing and quality control of Rioja; further providing consumers with confidence within the consumer product. If you find Rioja appealing, you can always purchase a vineyard in the La Rioja region. http://www.christiesrealestate.com/eng/localguide/rioja-spain-wine-lovers-paradise

 

Sources

1 http://www.labastida-bastida.org/en/vino-historia.php

2 Rivera Blanco, Antonio (Historia de Alava)

3 Gale, George (Dying on the Vine: How Phylloxera Transformed Wine)

4 http://es.riojawine.com/es/5-conoce-el-rioja.html

Wine and Food

People react differently to smells, tastes, and sensitivities to smells and tastes of wines and foods. Six different tastes are present while eating various foods: sweet, umami (savory), acid, salt, bitter, and spicy heat.

WSET mentions sweetness in foods increase bitter, acid, and “burning” effect of alcohol and decrease body, sweet, fruit taste in wine. Pairing sweet foods with dry wine can rid fruit taste and increase acid taste. The rule of thumb is to select a sweeter wine than food.

Savory flavors in foods cause wine to taste bitter with acid and “alcohol burn” taste. Savory foods decrease a wines perception of body, sweet and fruitiness.

Salt in foods increase body of a wine and decrease bitter and acid taste of a wine.

Acid in foods increase body, sweet, and fruitiness and decrease acid in wine.

Bitter food taste increase bitter taste in wine.

Spicy heat in food increase bitter, acid, and “alcohol burn” taste in foods and decrease body, richness, and sweetness and fruitiness in foods.

WSET describes other factors to consider including “flavour intensity,” “acid and fat,” and “sweet and salty.”

Application

High risk foods include sugar, savory, bitter, and spicy heat.

Low risk foods include salty and acid tasting foods. Note, WSET mentions to match high acid foods with high acid wines to prevent loss of structure.

High and low risk wines