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Ribera y Rueda: Food Friendly Wines From Spain

Winemaking in Spain’s most prestigious regions for red and white wines began almost 2,000 years ago. The flag of Castilla y León bears images of castles and lions—symbolism that represents the name of Spain’s largest region and a sense of purpose and prestige that has persisted to this day. It’s a wonder anyone would have thought to plant grapes in this place of extreme temperatures, blisteringly hot summers, bitterly cold winters, rocky terrain, and high altitudes, but a river runs through it, and with that, the key to vibrant vineyards and the stunning wines that come from them. Ribera y Rueda were bestowed the Denominación de Origen (D.O.) status in the 1980’s—and the rest, as they say, is history.

Ribera del Duero is home to more than 300 wineries, all of which have an almost singular focus: Tinto Fino, aka Tempranillo. Because many of the Ribera del Duero vines have been around for decades, they have adapted to the short growing season and develop their fruit relatively quickly. The result is complex wines with balanced acidity, a backbone of tannins, dark fruit, and sturdy structure. Read more.

Rueda sits at half a mile above sea level, where the climate is extreme with cold winters, late springs, and blistering summers. While harsh for humans, its native grape, Verdejo, thrives under these conditions, concentrating flavor. Characterized by elegant tropical fruit and fragrant citrus notes, the wines are aromatic and full-bodied with lively acidity. Read more.

Find these wines at these fine retailers

culture is excited to be partnering with Ribera y Rueda in launching a pilot program to support cheese and wine retailers around the country—which is expected to expand dramatically in the coming months.

These high-value wines from Spain pair perfectly with a wide variety of cheeses and other fine foods(see above!) This program offers an opportunity for retailers to introduce customers to these food-friendly wines. If you have questions, reach out to Stephanie Skinner stephanie@culturecheesemag.com or Greg O’Neill greg@riberaruedawine.com.

Participating Retailers

Austin, TX
Grand Rapids, MI
Babcock & Miles
Red Lodge, MT
Cheese Plus
San Francisco, CA
Concord Cheese Shop
Concord, MA
Cork & Rind
Saint Charles, MO
Dawson’s Market
Washington D.C. metro
New York City
Dorothy Lane
Dayton and Springbrook, OH
Eastman Party Store
Midland, MI

FireFly Farms
Baltimore, MD
France 44 Cheese Shop
Minneapolis, MN
The Greene Grape
Brooklyn, NY
Guido’s Fresh Market
Pittsfield, MA
Lush Wine and Spirits
Chicago metro, IL
Los Angeles, CA
Mongers Provisions
Detroit metro, MI
Paradise Pantry
Ventura, CA
Picnic Wine and Provisions
Chicago, IL
Provisions Williamstown
Williamstown, MA

Great Barrington, MA
Dallas, TX
The Art of the Table
Grand Rapids, MI
The Cheese Shop of Williamsburg
Williamsburg, VA
Ten:One Cheese Shop
Denton, TX
The Culture Shop
Charlotte, NC
The Spanish Table
San Francisco metro, CA
Valley Cheese & Wine
Henderson, NV
Ann Arbor, MI

Win a trip to Spain!

Experience the best bodegas (wineries), tour with winemakers and taste their best bottles while taking in historical sites. Stay in luxurious accommodations, and enjoy late lunches, tapas crawls, and fancy dinners. Enter here

©️2022 Roll Cut Studios/Huge Galdones

Ribera del Duero and Rueda: Your Next Wine Country Destination

Whether Rueda or Ribera del Duero – preferably both – these are the wine countries that should top every wine lover’s destination list. Not only do the regions stand out as bridges between ancient history and the modern day, but they also bring to the fore the fact that some of the most thrilling winemaking happening in the world is happening right there. Much of it can be gotten for prices far less than you’d pay on this side of the Atlantic, which means the only thing you need to remember when you visit is to bring an extra suitcase for the wine you will unquestionably be buying along the way. 

©️2022 Roll Cut Studios/Huge Galdones

Food and Wine Pairings: The Secret Ingredient

Integral to the food and wine pairing experience is something we don’t think about as much: community. “Community” is the connection to one another, but equally important, to place and to the people who bring that place to our table. The very best food and wine experiences cannot be separated from the makers of the foods and the wines we’re enjoying, the places they come from, nor the people we’re with. 

©️2022 Roll Cut Studios/Huge Galdones

Say Cheese! Perfect Pairings with Verdejo and Tempranillo

Red, white, Spain — and blue too. That’s almost all you need to remember when it comes to pairing cheese with its perfect Spanish wine partners. The “almost” part is the fact the wines are not just any Spanish red and white wines. Instead, we’re talking Tempranillo from Ribera del Duero and Rueda’s premier white wine, Verdejo. Both wines say cheese every time.

©️2022 Roll Cut Studios/Huge Galdones

Ribera, Rueda, and Micro Tapas

Bring Ribera Tempranillo and Rueda Verdejo to the table, and you’d best have their co-equals in the food kingdom alongside. Look no further than the unlikely trio of conservas – tinned fish – Spanish olives, and gourmet potato chips to do just that. Like the Ribera del Duero and Rueda regions themselves, each of these foods has its own history and because of that, a place at the table, Spanish and American alike. 

©️2022 Roll Cut Studios/Huge Galdones

Winter Whites, Late Summer Reds

When the summer season breathes its last symbolic gasp on Labor Day and the colors at the farmers’ markets begin to transition from bright yellows and ruby reds to dark greens, purples, and oranges, the wines in our glasses begin to change too. 

©️2022 Roll Cut Studios/Huge Galdones

Grilling the Tempranillo Way

Grilling is the bridge between get-togethers and conversation. Like the fire starter itself, grilling kicks off a good-natured if sometimes heated conversation not just because of the heat coming off the grill but also because no two grilling opinions are ever alike, and no two grilling outcomes are ever the same.  

©️2022 Roll Cut Studios/Huge Galdones

The Ultimate Spanish Food and Cheese Pairing Guide

There are so many ways to pair Ribera del Duero Tempranillo and Rueda Verdejo with food and cheese to create the ultimate spread for entertaining. Click here to download the cheese and wine pairing guide created by Laura Werlin and Ribera y Rueda wines.

©️2022 Roll Cut Studios/Huge Galdones

Tempranillo: King of Grapes

In most places, an axiom like “ten months of winter, two months of hell” would more likely be the snicker of a competitive region than it would a statement by its own. But winemakers in Spain’s Ribera del Duero, located in Castilla y León in the north-central part of the country, are happy to own this description. They know the resulting Tempranillo grape is like none other in Spain because of the unforgiving conditions in which it grows, not in spite of them.

©️2022 Roll Cut Studios/Huge Galdones

Ribera: Land of Extremes, Home to the King

Ribera del Duero translates to the riverbanks of the Duero – the river that cuts a 70 mile path (110 km) path through the region, lending diverse soils and an ever-so-slight moderating effect on the climate. It is a place where castles (“castillos”) dominate the landscape and with those, a reminder of the history that informs not just the winegrowing here but also the importance of the region to the development of the entire country of Spain.

©️2022 Roll Cut Studios/Huge Galdones

Verdejo: The World’s Next Great White Wine

Ask some of the world’s most famous winemakers inside and outside Spain to name their favorite Spanish white wine, and the answer is likely going to be the same. Winemakers from other parts of Europe as well as within Spain view Verdejo as a grape with huge potential. As a result, these winemakers have been quietly putting down roots – literally – for the past four decades in Rueda, Verdejo’s primary growing region.

©️2022 Roll Cut Studios/Huge Galdones

Rueda: Land of Lions and Verdejos

When winemaking began in Rueda around 1,000 years ago, it’s a wonder anyone would have thought to plant grapes in this region of extremes – blisteringly hot summers, bitterly cold winters, and a relatively high altitude. The prime grape of the region is Verdejo, to which about 40,000 acres of vineyards are dedicated. Because of the pebbly soil, the ground they’re rooted in seems pretty much inhospitable to anything but perhaps a dirt-loving reptile. Fortunately, these grapevines produce tasty grapes when they‘re forced to struggle, and in this fight, wine drinkers emerge the victors.

Photographed by Galdones Photography

Talking Tapas and Spain’s Most Prestigious Wine Region

In Southern Spain, order a copa de vino, and chances are a complimentary tapa will accompany your glass of wine. This can take the form of a dish of olives, a small bowl of potato chips, a few slices of chorizo or perhaps a small dish of paella. If this offering has a name at all (in Spain, this type of nibble is served without pretense or name), it will likely be called a tapa – a small bite meant to be eaten with wine. One thing is true: whether you call it a pintxo, tapa, or bar snack, these have nothing to do with pairings. Instead, they are as much an extension of hospitality as they are an alcohol buffer.

Perfect partners for cheese

Ribera del Duero Tempranillo and Rueda Verdejo love cheese. Luckily, cheese loves them back. And not just Spanish cheese! Part of this has to do with the many styles of Verdejo and Ribera del Duero-grown Tempranillo (also known as Tinta del Pais and Tinto Fino in this region). Those styles are the result of the variety of soils, higher altitudes, and extreme climate in the two regions. 

Photographed by Michele Cardamone Photography

In our exclusive guide, James Beard Award-winning author Laura Werlin shares tips on pairing Tempranillo (Ribera del Duero) and Verdejo (Rueda) wines with cheeses from around the world. Download it here

Ribera y Rueda

Ribera y Rueda were bestowed the Denominación de Origen (D.O.) status in the 1980s. Rueda is home to Verdejo, Spain’s #1 white wine. Ribera del Duero produces Tempranillo, one of Spain’s most prestigious reds.

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