Tempranillo Food Pairing: 19 Perfect Matches

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Tempranillo Food Pairing: Foods that Pair Well

Tempranillo, the main red grape grown in Spain and Portugal, is the perfect food wine. As the saying aptly goes, “like vines intertwined, the perfect pairing you’ll find.” Tempranillo’s rich heritage on the Iberian Peninsula naturally positions it as an ideal wine for the region’s classic dishes. But Tempranillo wines pair with earthy flavors, fatty rich meats, and savory vegetarian options from across different cultures and cuisines.

Here are 19 dishes that complement Tempranillo, along with tips and tricks for easy pairing or preparation.

Helpful Tip: Check out this full guide to Tempranillo wines, including serving temperature, history, and recommended producers. Now, on to…

1 Tapas and Cured Meats

tempranillo food pairing - cured meats

Try pairing Tempranillo with traditional Spanish tapas and jamón. The wine’s acidity and tannins cut through the salt and fat of the meats creating balance.

  • Fun Tip: You can go traditional with Spanish jamón, but feel free to experiment with other cured meats, too, chorizo, salami, prosciutto – go for it!

2 Grilled Vegetables – Vegetarian/Vegan

Go for earthy flavors when pairing foods with Tempranillo wines. The wine’s bright acid will lift up and enhance herbal and vegetable notes helping them come together. Grilled squash, peppers, and onions all work here, but feel free to experiment.

  • Tips: Sprinkle on fresh herbs and garlic for an extra layer of flavor.

3 Pork Chops

tempranillo food pairing - pork chops

Whether pan-fried, or grilled, pork chops benefit from Tempranillos red fruit and acid backbone, bringing juicy freshness to this white meat.

  • Tips: Consider adding a fruit-based sauce or glaze to the pork chops for a complementary flavor. Heck, pour some of the wine in the pan to deglaze and make a sauce. Yummy goodness right there.

4 Lentil Soup – Vegetarian/Vegan

tempranillo food pairing - soup

You can go vegetarian or add ground sausage, but either way, a rich, hearty lentil soup will marry well with your Tempranillo wines. And I’m a fan of more fiber in my diet.

5 Meatballs in Tomato Sauce

tempranillo food pairing - meatballs

The combination of fat from the meatballs and acid from the Tomato Sauce along with the Tempranillo creates a winning interplay of flavors. The wine’s medium to full-bodied character stands up to the hearty nature of the meat sauce.

6 Pork Skins

More of a snack than a meal, but still perfectly paired in every way, Tempranillo and pork skins bring together all of the right flavors in an easy package.

7 Roast Chicken

tempranillo food pairing - chicken

Whether you pick up a chicken from the corner store on the way home, or make your own, roasted chicken will work well when pairing Tempranillo wine. Add some sauteed vegetables and call it a Monday night meal.

8 Manchego Cheese – Vegetarian

tempranillo food pairing - manchego cheese

Spanish Manchego cheese made from sheep’s milk is a hard white cheese with subtle nutty notes and a salty body. This pairs beautifully with Tempranillo wine. Try adding asiago and parmesan to your party plate to mix things ups.

Tips: Arrange a cheese platter with other Spanish cheeses like Idiazabal and Mahón for a delightful tasting experience. If you can’t source Spanish cheese, go for an aged white cheddar (my go-to wine cheese). Check out this full Tempranillo chese pairing guide for more tasty pairings.

9 Carnitas Tacos

tempranillo food pairing - carnitas tacos

If you have a favorite taco truck, it’s time to grab some carnitas take-out (or bring your Tempranillo and a corkscrew). Squeeze on that lime and go for the fresh onions and raddish, because all of those layered flavors add up. Your perky red-berried Tempranillo can hold its own with your favorite carnitas.

10 Pizza – Vegetarian

pizza - tempranillo food pairing

The acid from tomato sauce paired with the fat and salt of the cheese makes pizza an easy Tempranillo wine pairing. If you want to kick it up a notch, add some spicy sausage or red pepper flakes with an aged Tempranillo… yum.

  • Tip: Opt for a pizza with a thin, crispy crust for a balanced pairing. Added bonus? Save those calories for another glass of wine.

12 Super Nachos – Vegetarian

tempranillo food pairing - nachos
BEGGING for a glass of Tempranillo right here.

Tempranillo’s medium to high tannins work with loaded nachos. Sour cream, beans, meat, banana peppers – bring it all on! The wine’s acidity will cut through the fat and the salt will lift up your wine.

  • Tips: Experiment with different toppings like seasoned ground beef, black beans, jalapeños, and a variety of melted cheeses for an explosion of flavors.

13 Spanish Paella

tempranillo food pairing - paella
Paella is the classic Spanish dish to pair with Tempranillo if you have a lazy afternoon and friends to pass the time with good conversation while cooking.

Of course, we have to include paella, the classic Spanish rice dish, for Tempranillo food pairings. This isn’t an easy dish to make, however, but is doable from a boxed rice mix with some added chicken wings. The vibrant flavors of Spanish paella, featuring saffron-infused rice is most at home with Tempranillo wines.

14 Pulled Pork Sliders

sliders - tempranillo wine pairing ideas

Succulent pulled pork sliders complement Tempranillo’s fruit-forward profile. The wine’s medium to full-bodied nature stands up to the richness of the meat.

  • Tip: Top the sliders with tangy coleslaw or pickles for a contrasting texture and flavor. Love it!

15 Grilled Portobello Mushrooms – Vegan

Another winning dish for our vegetarian friends. Pair Tempranillo with hearty grilled Portobello mushrooms. The wine’s acidity enhances the earthy flavors of the mushrooms.

  • Tips: Marinate the mushrooms in balsamic vinegar and garlic before grilling for added depth.

16 Braised Short Ribs

tempranillo food pairing - ribs

The richness of braised short ribs work with Tempranillo’s medium to full-bodied character. The wine’s tannins complement the braised meat.

  • Tips: Braise the short ribs in a red wine sauce (like Tempranillo red wine, of course) with onions, carrots, and herbs for added complexity.

17 Stuffed Bell Peppers – Vegetarian/Vegan

I once dated a man who refused to eat stuffed peppers. People either love them or hate them with a passion. If you love stuffed peppers, then uncork your Tempranillo and indulge. If you don’t, still, Tempranillo didn’t do anything wrong, so uncork that bottle anyways.

18 Grilled Eggplant Parmesan – Vegetarian/Vegan

The smoky flavors of grilled eggplant pair beautifully with Tempranillo’s medium body and tannins. This is a more complicated dish to make, but if you have the time and inclination, it’s a winner.

19 Mushroom Risotto – Vegetarian/Vegan

risotto - tempranillo food pairing

Yes, mushroom risotto works as a Tempranillo pairing. I’d select a youthful Tempranillo, like a Joven if you’re into Rioja wines. You want that fresh strawberry and cherry flavor to combine with the earthy flavors of mushroom risotto. (Or just pair your risotto with a Pinot Noir like the savvy sipper I know you are deep down inside.)

How to Pair Tempranillo Wine

When pairing food with Tempranillo (or any wine), you start with understanding the wine’s structure.

  1. Body: Tempranillo is usually a medium to full-bodied wine, so you’ll want to pair it with heavier dishes.
  2. Acid: Tempranillo wines tend to have medium plus to high acid. Acid gives the fruit in the wine life and makes it vibrant. It also helps cut through fact. Salt and acid work well together to balance each other out.
  3. Tannin: Tempranillo has medium to high tannins. Again, fat and salt help balance out tannins in wine.

Helpful Tip: Check out this 30-second tasting tip on how to taste tannins in wine, and here’s another post that goes into more about how pair food flavors with different wines.

How to Serve Tempranillo Wine

how to serve tempranillo wine infographic
Check out more on Tempranillo wine here.

Final Thoughts – Tempranillo Food Pairing Made Easy

If you decide to go the easy route and stick to Tempranillo pairing with classic Spanish dishes, you can’t really go wrong. Remember, capitalize on the wine’s bright red fruited profile and structured acid and tannins. Do this by matching with salty, fatty, and earthy flavored dishes. Easy!

Thirsty for More?

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Check out these quick tips on how to taste unfamiliar wines.

And here’s a fun post on how to host your own blind wine tasting at home (this is how I got started so many years ago).

Love Tempranillo? Then be sure to find these other amazing Spanish reds then next time you’re at the bottle shop.

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