Classic Spanish reds are influenced by the Bordeaux style of winemaking and are often a true expression of the land and soil where the grapes are grown. Wines from the Rioja region in Northern Spain are earthy and complex. The fruit is there, but it’s not overwhelming. While there is nothing like a hearty Monticello Gran Reserva, Spanish winemakers from all over the country are making wine with varietals not typically grown in Spain, where Garnacha, Tempranillo, and Macabeo have characterized Spanish wine for more than a century. Taste a few bottles from both styles for a quick lesson on Spanish terroir—not to mention the chance to taste several bottles of fabulous wine. Pair it with friends and a tray of paella and you’ve got yourself a fiesta. —JULIE BLACKLIDGE
1998 Marques de Caceres Reserva, Rioja, Spain ($19.99)
Open up this bottle and get ready to shout, “Ole!” The deep ruby color is as inviting as the enchanting fruit in the bouquet. This medium-bodied gem is ready to drink now but can stand up to a few more years of bottle aging. Available at Pogo’s Wine and Spirits, 5360 W. Lovers Ln. 214-350-8989.
1996 Montecillo Gran Reserva, Rioja, Spain ($26.99)
If you’ve never tasted a wine from Rioja, this bottle will give you a first-class tour of the region. It’s intense and bold—licorice and pepper with an elegant, long finish. Let it breathe before you take a sip, especially if this is your first taste. Available at the Wine Market & More, 3858 Oak Lawn Ave., Ste. 165. 214-219-6758.
2004 Osborne Solaz Shiraz Tempranillo, Tierra de Castilla, Spain ($7.97)
Don’t be fooled by the price tag. Solaz is a top-quality wine grown in central Spain. This is Osborne’s newest estate and also one of the biggest vineyards in the country. The blend of Tempranillo and Shiraz offers oenophiles a new and different flavor profile, showing a lovely balance of oak and ripe fruit. Available at Majestic Liquors, 7580 Greenville Ave. 214-363-0201.
Portal 2003 Celler Vinos Piñol, Nuestra Señora del Portal, Semi Crianza, Spain ($15.99)
Be the first wino on your block to offer your guests this off-the-beaten-path wine from the Terra Alta region. The blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache, Merlot, Tempranillo, and Syrah exhibits the intoxicating aromas of dark berry, fruit, and plum combined with a good tannic structure. Available at Pogo’s Wine and Spirits, 5360 W. Lovers Ln. 214-350-8989.