Think Rioja only comes in red? These white and sparkling wines say otherwise

Think Rioja only comes in red? These white and sparkling wines say otherwise


We should embrace Rioja this Christmas like never before and I’ll tell you why.

Because red wine doesn’t have the monopoly on the name. In fact, the region La Rioja – about two hours south of San Sebastián – makes wines of all colours and styles.

Begin with Rioja’s sparkling wine – Espumosos de Calidad de Rioja. True, you don’t see much of it around but it certainly exists, and can be a delicious and interesting alternative to Cava. Meanwhile, the whites from Rioja make for a fantastic party wine with their floral and fruity flavours.

However, white Rioja also has a very important place in top restaurants. The richer white Riojas taste of honey, butter and beeswax, and they make incredible food-pairing wines so they’re a sommelier favourite. And at this time of year, they make a deliciously decadent pairing with a vegetarian savoury tart for Christmas Day.

If you don’t drink it this year though don’t worry. This kind of white Rioja lasts for years and years, sometimes for a quarter of a century or more.

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The hot weather in Rioja brings out bags of juicy flavour from the red grapes, so Rioja rosados (rosés) are unashamedly fruity and fun-loving. Typically, they used to be a deep raspberry colour but now there’s a trend for paler rosados, even if the juiciness of flavour remains the same.

And so to reds. Well, the name to remember here is tempranillo. This gutsy grape is proudly responsible for Rioja’s bold red wine reputation.

While red Rioja’s flavours are always punchy, they do range in heaviness and price, and a lot of this is down to how the wines are stored. If they don’t spend time in oak barrels (ie, they’re unoaked), they’ll taste lighter, but if they’re aged for a good spell in oak, these are the rich winter-warming Riojas that we all know and love.

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Join the Metro Wine Club

Castillo de Logrono Familia Manzanos Barrica Rioja Blanco (Picture: Supplied)

Fancy a white Rioja? You’ll find a luscious Castillo de Logrono Familia Manzanos Barrica Rioja Blanco in our latest wine club case – and soak up

some big savings to boot. Join the Metro Wine Club, in association with Virgin Wines, and you’ll get 12 bottles usually worth £171.88 for £65.88, with free delivery. That’s £5.49 a bottle!

Available as a mixed, all-red or all-white selection, the case is the perfect intro to Virgin Wines’ WineBank service – including benefits such as £1 extra for every £5 saved, free express delivery and no contract or membership fees – you’re in charge!

Visit Virgin Wines or call 0343 224 1001 and quote the code VF2247

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