Spain is a fantastic country which boasts amazing wine throughout different regions. There’s many different areas of wine production, however Rioja is possibly the most famous and most popular Spanish wine here in the UK. With this in mind, we thought it would be a good idea to publish our Rioja wine guide.


Rioja DOCa is a wine-region, located in the ‘Basque Country’. It’s the most famous wine producing region in Spain, boasting over 600 wineries and over 16,000 vineyards!

DOCa means Designation of Origin Calificada, Spain’s most prestigious and protected Geographical Indication. This means that winemakers must follow strict rules when producing their wine, if they want to label it as Rioja.

rioja wine guide | wwines from rioja | spanish wine regions

Rioja Vega winery in Rioja DOCa


Contrary to popular belief, Rioja is NOT a grape. If you like red wine from Rioja then you are more than likely a fan of Tempranillo. Most red wines from Rioja are made from 100% Tempranillo or at least a blend containing it.


Red Rioja wine are normally Tempranillo based blends. Garnacha Negra, Graciano and Mazuela (aka Carinena/Carignon) which are often blended with the Tempranillo add variations of alcohol, acidity and spiciness to the wine.

Rioja reds are always aged in oak. In order to make a smoother wine, most winemakers are using French and Hungarian oak barrels, rather than American. However, some producers (not many) use American oak.

Depending on the amount of time they spend ageing in oak barrels, they’ll receive Crianza, Reserva or Gran Reserva status.

There are distinctive qualities you can identify Rioja red wines by:

Rioja reds are well structured due to the high tannin levels found in Tempranillo grapes. Garnacha is used to add alcohol content and spice flavours. Taking this into account expect a well structured, full bodied red wine with elegant spice and fruit aromas.


White wines from Rioja, make up only around 10% of wine production in the region, so you won’t find them regularly in well-known shops/supermarkets.

Typically, a white Rioja is Viura based (also known as Macabeu). Other grape varieties allowed in white Rioja are VerdejoGarnacha BlancaSauvignon BlancMalvasia and Tempranillo BlancViura has to make up at least 51% of the blend.

Most white Rioja is released after one year and oak ageing isn’t required. With this in mind, expect fruity and citrus aromas, which transcend into beautiful stone fruit flavours. White Rioja wines are dry with medium acidity.


Have a look below at our favourite wines from our favourite producer in Rioja DOCa


rioja wine guide | wwines from rioja | spanish wine regions

A very light and fragrant single varietal un-oaked white Rioja made solely from the Viura grape variety. The 2017 Vega Blanco packs youthful fruity citrus flavours with hints of herbs on the finish.

Taste buds tingling at the sound of this wine? Well, you can buy Rioja Vega for under £10!

rioja wine guide | wwines from rioja | spanish wine regions

This Rioja Crianza is made from Tempranillo grapes that were harvested from Vega’s vineyards in the Alta and Baja areas region. The crianza tinto boasts really powerful black fruit aromas. The rich tannin adds complexity and depth to this wine. It’s a fantastic bottle from our favourite producer.

Tempted for the tinto? Well you can get a bottle for £9.99!


We hope you enjoyed reading our Rioja wine guide and got a bit more understanding on this iconic region. Don’t forget to subscribe to our mailing list at the bottom of our homepage. Stay tuned for more blog posts!

Lightfoot Wines is an independent wine merchant est 1989. We aim to provide you with products and a level of service not seen in regular shops. We believe that wine should be enjoyed by everyone, feel free to ask us your wine related questions and we will provide you with an answer.All our products are available online, we can deliver anywhere in the UK and shipping is free on orders of £100 ad over!Visit us on FacebookInstagram & Twitter for regular updates and special offers.

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