It’s a shame Tempranillo doesn’t get more love in the US. It’s the primary grape in Spain’s most famous red wine blend, Rioja. Most of the Tempranillo grown in the US comes from warmer regions of California and Tempranillo pairs with food extremely well. If you are going to pair Tempranillo with food, we suggest leaning to flavors that are mildly spicy. Cajun is a particular favorite of mine, as long as it’s not over the top with heat.

Tempranillo Food Pairing Suggestions

Their are lots of options when looking to pair Tempranillo with food. It’s also one of the few reds that does equally well with stronger tasting fowl or leaner beef.

  • Hamburgers
    Yep… a big ole American Hamburger and wine works really well. Tempranillo has just a little more “spice” to it than some of the classic French wines so zip up your burger as well by adding a little smoked paprika and minced onion. This is a pretty good recipe but switch out the hot paprika with a smoked version instead.

  • Dry Indian Chili Chicken
    There are not a lot of Indian dishes that go well with red wines but this one does because it is no too reliant on sweeter flavors mixed in with the savory.


  • Cajun Filet Mignon
    Filet Mignon pairs with Tempranillo extremely well because it is a lean meat and Tempranillo lacks the heavy tannins that work best with fattier meats. Use this recipe but instead of Kosher Salt, use a heavy sprinkling of a good Cajun Seasoning.


  • Jambalaya Pasta (or make with Rice)
    Ah…spicy Cajun jambalaya and wine (if you haven’t noticed, we think Tempranillo works really well with Cajun flavors). This recipe works a little better than others because it is not so reliant on Tomato as the main flavor. Tempranillo is not a very acidic wine and heavy tomato based dishes can overwhelm it.

Other General Guidelines and Classic Meals

We alluded to it above but if you are going to pair Tempranillo with food, avoid those with heavier acidic components like lemon juice, tomatoes or vinegar.

Tempranillo works well with stronger fish but avoid mild fishes that would do better with white wines.

Cheese with Tempranillo is not the best combination. If you are really dying for a cheese pairing though, soft or smoky cheeses will work best. Smoked Provolone, Gruyere or Brie would be your best bets.

Learn more about Tempranillo like serving temperature and the ability to age by clicking here.

Winery-Sage.com provides food and wine pairing advice for a number of wines. Click here to go to our general post to see suggested food pairings for other Varietals.

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