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.
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.
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.
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.
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 (see above!) The Knock-It-Down (KID) program offers an opportunity for retailers to introduce customers to these food friendly wines AND increase register ring by selling more cheese. Download the one sheet here, and if you have questions, reach out to Stephanie Skinner firstname.lastname@example.org or Greg O’Neill email@example.com.
The following retailers have already signed up to participate:
- DTLA Cheese, Los Angeles, CA
- Cheese Cave, Claremont, CA
- Venissimo Cheese, San Diego, CA (all three locations)
- The Spanish Table, Mill Valley, Berkeley, and San Francisco, CA
- Rubiner’s, Great Barrington, MA
- Wasik’s (aka The Cheese Shop of Wellesley), Wellesley, MA
- France 44 Cheese Shop, Minneapolis, MN
- The Greene Grape, Brooklyn, NY
- Cheese Shop of Des Moines, Des Moines, IA
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.