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Sabor amargo del vino

Why are wines bitter?

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Some wines are more bitter than others. Any idea why? We’ll tell you in the next episode of WineClass. Learn all you need to know about bitterness in wine and pick up the perfect trick for detecting it straight away. It’s not just in red wines! 

Here at El Coto de Rioja, we want wine tasting to be a sensory experience for you. Would you like to find all the different nuances in your favourite drink? Follow WineClass! 

Today, in episode nine, we’re looking into one of the most characteristic flavours of wine: bitterness. Where does this flavour come from and how do we perceive it? Make sure you’re paying attention! Hit Play! 

Cómo iniciarse en tintos

Everything you never knew about bitterness

Thanks to our taste buds, we can perceive a wide range of flavours in all kinds of food and drink. With practice, we can hone our skills and make our palates much more precise. But did you know that we can’t detect bitterness straight after birth? 

Humans don’t start out life tasting bitterness, but over time, we learn to recognise it and appreciate it. It’s probably one of the more complex flavours, since it can easily be disagreeable if we’re not used to it or when it comes in high doses.  

Some examples of this flavour are coffee, pure chocolate, olives and even some citrus fruits. But how does this flavour end up in wine. Let’s take a look. 

Bitterness in wine

When we taste a wine, specifically a red wine, it can sometimes leave our mouths feeling dry. What do you think causes this bitterness in wine? The main cause is in the grapes themselves. 

The seeds, the stalks and the pomace have high concentrations of substances known as tannins. Depending on their maturity and how these elements have been prepared, tannins can make a wine smoother (well-rounded tannins) or astringent, which is what causes a certain roughness.

Train your palate with our wines
Sabor amargo en vino
Vinos tintos para principiantes

How to tell if a wine is bitter

The younger the tannin, the longer the bitterness will linger in the mouth. In other words, the wine will be more astringent. Otherwise, if we are drinking a Reserva or Gran Reserva wine, the tannins will be more mature due to ageing, and will make the wine smoother and more complex.  

You’re probably wondering… Are only red wines bitter? Not quite. However, they do tend to have more tannins in them.  

All varieties of grape (both red and whitehave tannins, to a greater or lesser extent. Afterwards, when making the final products, is when we look for the perfect balance in each wine. 

So, is there any method for knowing how to drink a bitter wine? For example, if we drink a wine that needs to develop too early, this astringency will not be pleasant, and we can tell that the wine needs to rest for longer. However, storing a bottle for too long can be counter-productive since it can end up going off.  

Our recommendation for enjoying any kind of wine (whether sweet, sour or bitter) is always to store it at home in the right way, checking the vintage to know when to drink it and serving it at the right temperature 

Trick for detecting bitterness

In WineClass, we always offer a simple time to train your palate in each lesson.  

The first thing to know about bitterness is where you perceive it on the tongue. In this case, bitterness stimulates the taste buds towards the back of the tongue, near your uvula and throat.  

Next, look for a clear reference point for this flavour in other foods, as we mentioned before. When you try them, you might not notice it as firsts. But, after a few seconds, you’ll start to notice that dry feeling.  

When you bring this exercise to a wine tasting, play around with contrasts and try wines at different stages in the ageing process, such as a Rioja Crianza (we use El Coto Crianza) and a Reserve wine (such as our Coto de Imaz Reserva).  

Do you remember the blindfold we recommended for guessing the aromas in wine? Time to bring it back out to focus your senses on flavour. Can you feel it? It’s a matter of practice. 

Qué son los taninos del vino

Take a look back at all of the WineClass episodes on the official El Coto de Rioja YouTube channel. Don’t forget to click the bell so that you never miss a new lesson when it comes out. 

Meanwhile, learn more fun facts about the world of wine with the content of our blog. Try this one to start out: 

Simple tips for pairing red wines
Sabor salado vino

Does wine have a salty flavour?

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Learn about one of the most difficult flavours in wine to detect, saltiness. Did you know that it exists? In the latest episode of WineClass, we speak about this enigmatic flavour, where it comes from and how to detect it in a wine tasting.

Feeling curious? Keep on reading!

Here at El Coto de Rioja, we love myth-busting, especially when people say that knowing your wines is a complicated business. It’s really not, we promise. WineClass is a clear example that wine lessons can be easy and fun.

Today, in episode eight, we’ll let you in on all you need to know about saltiness in wines. It’s one of the more complex flavours. Learn how to detect it and take your “wine moments” to the next level. Hit Play!

Cómo catar un vino

Saltiness in wine

As you know, there are five recognised flavours in wine, and we perceive each of them on different parts of the tongue thanks to how the tastebuds work.

As we mentioned, sweetness is detected on the tip of the tongue. When it comes to saltiness, it is a close area that picks up on saltiness, specifically the two sides of the tongue.

But what makes a wine salty? Let’s take a look.

What is a salty wine?

When we talk about the saltiness of a wine, we mainly mean the concentration of mineral salts in it. But where do they come from? From the vineyard.

Vineyards are planted in different soils that have a range of natural components (known as soluble salts). These are spread out across the layers of soil and are subsequently absorbed by the roots of the vine. As such, the concentration of these salts is what causes saltiness in wine.

Some of the most common components are phosphates, sulphates, potassium and sodium. What do these bring to the wine? Mainly complexity and a flavour boost.

Discover the saltiness in an El Coto de Rioja wine
Qué es un vino salado
Vino Verdejo El Coto

How much salt is there in wine?

Calculations show that a wine can have between 2-4 grams of salts per litre. This is a fairly low concentration and, as such, it makes it particularly difficult to detect them in a wine tasting. So, don’t worry if you don’t notice it at first. It’s all about practice.

The range of concentration of mineral salts are limited in the regulations depending on the component.

Saltier wines

As we mentioned, this concentration varies depending both on the soil type and the type of wine we are drinking. So, what are the saltiest wines and which are the sweetest?

Wines with a greater level of saltiness come from places near to the coast. In other words, one from vineyards near the sea. For example, some these are albariño, fino and manzanilla. In fact, the saltiest wine in Spain is manzanilla from Sanlúcar de Barrameda, Cádiz. Have you ever tried it?

Tips for recognising saltiness in wine

To recognise this flavour in wine (whether its red, white, rosé or sparkling wines), we recommend using foods or elements that are fairly close to what we want to taste. And what could be saltier than salt itself?

The best trick for learning how saltiness stimulates our taste buds is to make a simulation of salt water. To do this, just get a glass of water and add a handful of salt.

When you swish it around your mouth, you’ll clearly notice which part of the tongue is activated and, slowly but surely, you be able to recognise this feeling from wine. Be patient and remember that this flavour is quite complicated to detect. With practice, you’ll get it!

Truco para vinos salados

You can watch all the episodes of WineClass on our El Coto de Rioja YouTube channel. Here’s another tip! Click the bell icon to find out when we launch the next class. Which flavour will we tell you about next?

In the meantime, keep up to date with the world of wine and take a look at the rest of the content on our blog. For example, you could start with this one:

Types of white wine in Spain
Sabores del vino_ El Coto

What are the flavours in wine?

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Have you ever wondered what gives wine its flavour or what a good wine tastes like? In this article, you’ll find all the information you need about the flavours in wine when it comes to doing a tasting or pairing it with your food.

Here at El Coto de Rioja, we’ve been giving you some basic wine-tasting lesson for some time now. Have you seen them?

With our WineClass videos, we want to help you learn and enjoy wine with all five senses. Now, in episode six, we want you to learn about the flavours in wine and how to pick them out. Hit play and make sure you’re taking notes!

Cómo catar un vino

The five flavours of wine: salty, bitter, sweet, sour and umami

As we’ve mentioned before, a wine tasting has a visual stage, a smelling stage and, lastly, we come to the tasting stage. The aim of the latter stage is to recognise the different flavours and how intense they are in each wine to see if we have balanced and harmonious wines.

In our mouths, tongues and throats, we have sensory receptors that can pick up on signals and send them to the brain to know what we are eating or drinking and what flavour it has. This way, we can pick out 5 different flavours that we detect on different parts of the mouth and tongue. Let’s take a look at where they are.

Sensory receptors for wine

The middle of the palate is where we detect bitterness. Do you want to know if you can detect this flavour? Try it with a bit of tonic water and pay attention to where you feel this flavour on your tongue!

If you’re tasting a wine, you should know that if this flavour is very strong, it might mean that the wine is off. As a rule of thumb, it’s not an easy flavour to detect, and this will also depend on whether you have a young wine, a Crianza or a Reserva wine.

We pick up on sourness on the sides of the tongue. To pick up this flavour in your mouth, you just need to drink a glass of lemon water with the right among of citric acid to do this exercise and learn to detect it in your wine.

Sweetness is most present on the tip of the tongue. Try our white semi-sweet wine and check if you are able to pick up on this sensation on this part of your tongue.

In turn, you will pick up on saltiness on the front parts of the sides of your tongue. In a wine, this flavour could come from the minerals in the earth where the vines were grown or from vineyards near the sea. However, there aren’t many wines that have a very strong salty flavour.

The fifth and least known flavour is umami, which we could describe as a “savoury taste”, which we detect on the centre of the tongue, although it can fill the whole mouth. To see if you can tell this flavour apart from the rest, try a bit of soy sauce or a slice of pancetta.

Los 5 sabores del vino
Qué le da sabor al vino

What gives wine its flavour?

Each of the different flavours can come from one particular aspect of the wine. For example, alcohol is what provides sweetness in a red wine, as well as the sugars that the grape has, which might be more or less present depending on the variety.

Sourness generally comes from the grape. This flavour is caused by acids such as tartaric acid or citric acid. What’s more, wine also takes on some sourness during the winemaking process, where some acids are created such as lactic acid and acetic acid.

Bitterness is caused by the polyphenols, which are mainly present in the skin and seeds of the grapes, which includes phenolic acids and tannins. Tannins soften over time, which means that wines left to age in the barrel for longer are generally smoother, more aromatic and less astringent in the mouth.

Regarding umami, which is the flavour of glutamate, is caused by the fermentation process. It’s quite difficult to pick up in this flavour in wine, but we can recommend not pairing any umami-rich dishes with young wines that are rich in tannins and could be very astringent. They go better with a reserve wine or a Crianza.

Lastly, as we mentioned before, saltiness comes from the minerals that the vine absorbs from the earth.

As our WineClass expert always say, “the best wine is the one you like most.” That’s why here at El Coto de Rioja, we have so many varieties and options for all mouths and tastes.

A little tip: flavour is subjective, but the balance of a wine can be what sets it apart. In your mouth, you’ll be able to tell if there is a balance between the sweetness, sourness, tannins and alcohol level

Try our wines and discover more flavours!
Cómo encontrar el sabor del vino

Did you enjoy our lesson on the flavours in wine? Don’t forget to watch all of the WineClass episodes on the official El Coto de Rioja YouTube channel. To be the first to know when we bring out a new video, don’t forget to click on the bell icon.

For a lesson like this on flavours in wine, you can’t miss our recommendation for pairing it with dishes and finding the perfect match for a wine.

Which wine is best for each food?
Maridar vino tinto

Simple tips for pairing red wine

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Can you pair all red wines in the same way? Learn the difference between pairing a young wine, a Crianza or a Gran Reserva. Don’t forget to read these simple tips and master the art of pairing red wine! Let’s get started!

Maridaje vino tinto

How to pair red wine

Red wine is one of the star players for pairing with our favourite dishes. Of course, its intense flavour goes perfectly with any culinary or sensory experience. But can you pair any red wine with any recipe? The answer is a definite no.

As you know, there are different types of red wine and, as such, each one is the best suited for a particular kind of food. Remember that what we want to do is find the perfect combination to add to the flavours and have both the food and drink stand out in perfect harmony.

As such, we’ve put together a set of useful tips for pairing red wines in terms of their vintage. That way, you can clear up any doubts and pair your dishes without any qualms.

Pairing with young red wines

As you know, young wines are ones that have not been aged at all. These wines are normally lighter and easier on the palate, which makes them perfect to go with a range of dishes.

Pairing with a young red is a foolproof choice for:

  • Simply cooked white meat
  • White fish in stews or sauces (red wine and fish is possible!)
  • Nuts, olives and pickles
  • Semi-soft and medium-hard cheeses (blue cheese or goat’s cheese also go well with young wines because it balances out their intense flavour)
  • Pasta with tomato-based sauces
  • Milk chocolate (with a low cocoa percentage)

What do we recommend? A young Tempranillo such as 875m Tinto, a fresh wine that doesn’t hold back on the intense flavour that we love in red wine. It’s great, even for people who are looking to get started in the world of red wine.

Find out about all our red wines

Pairing with Crianza red wines

As we get towards the more aged wines, we need to be more careful with what we choose to pair them with. Basically, because we don’t want to mask the flavours of the other products.

Remember that Crianza red wines are ones that have been in the barrel for at least 12 months. To pair Crianza red wines successfully, you can do it with:

  • Red meat
  • Charcuterie
  • Aged cheeses
  • Rice dishes with meat or very strong flavours
  • Oily fish
  • Pasta with tomato-based sauces
  • Milk chocolate (with a mid-range cocoa percentage)

In this case, El Coto Crianza is the perfect example, since it’s an amazingly versatile wine that’s easy to pair with both meat and fish. On the nose, it’s a fresh and fruity red, but in the mouth it has a pleasant lingering silky texture.

Pairing with Reserva and Gran Reserva red wines

Pairing Reserva or Gran Reserva wines sort of follows the rule we mentioned before. In this case, since they are complex wine with a very defined body, the best thing is to save them for potent dishes.

Reserva and Gran Reserva wines are both barrel- and bottle-aged. This takes place over a long period of time. For Reserva reds, the minimum ageing period is 3 years. With Gran Reserva wines, it’s an ageing process of at least 5 years.

To pair a Reserva or Gran Reserva wine without any qualms, it’s best to go for:

  • Game
  • Red meat
  • Charcuterie
  • Pure chocolate
  • Rice dishes with very strong flavours

As for house recommendations, we’d go for Coto Real Reserva (perfect for duck breast, pigeon or any red meat) and Coto de Imaz Gran Reserva (ideal for suckling lamb, game and red meat). Both will surprise you!

Maridaje vinos crianza

Keep this little guide in hand and you’ll master any pairing with red wine. If you need more tips for picking out the perfect red wine for each dish, take a look at this article.

How to pair rosé wine with any dish
Aromas terciarios del vino

What are the tertiary aromas in wine?

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At some point, you must have heard someone talking about a wine’s bouquet. This term that wine‑lovers often throw around refers to the aromas that it gets during the ageing process. In this article, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about the bouquet or, in other words, the tertiary aromas in wine.

Here at El Coto de Rioja, we want you to be part of our world by teaching you everything you need to know about wine in an educational and entertaining way. That’s why we created WineClass, a set of very simple lessons about wine tasting so that you can get the most out of your wines at home or at any celebration.

In the fifth episode, we’re talking about the tertiary aromas in wine, more commonly known as the bouquet. Hit play and take notes!

Types of tertiary aromas

The tertiary aromas in wine are the ones that the wine takes on during barrel and bottle ageing processes. As such, you’ll notice these aromas in:

  • Crianza Wines: (24 months of ageing, of which at least 6 months are in an oak barrel)
  • Reserva: (at least 3 years of ageing, including at least 18 months of barrel‑ageing and 2 months of bottle‑ageing)
  • Gran Reserva: (5 years of ageing, of which 17 months are in an oak barrel and the rest in the bottle).

 The process of barrel ageing a wine makes its aromatic components transform due to exposure to oxygen, the material the container is made of and the lees. As such, in the tertiary aromas, we can pick up notes of nuts, wood, or even coffee, cocoa, leather or tobacco.

Barrel ageing and its aromas

Storing wine in barrels gets the oxygen into the wine slowly, which is what brings about the nutty aromas, reminiscent of walnut, toasted almond or hazelnut.

Contact with the barrel also gives the wine its aromas, which can vary depending on the type of oak. In American oak barrels, we get intense notes of vanilla and coconut, among other things… In French oak barrels, we find spicier scents such as cinnamon, cloves, molasses or cocoa.

Bottle ageing and its aromas

After barrel ageing, in many cases, the wine is left to rest in the bottle for a time, but under similar conditions as in the barrel. In other words, in a dark, cool and normally underground place, with no exposure to light.

This is known as the final stage of wine ageing. Thus, wine keeps on developing and acquiring new aromas due to the mix and chemical reactions that happen in the alcohol, the oxygen, water and acids in the wine. In this way, we get notes of leather or truffles to name just a few.

Try our wines to discover more aromas!

Ageing on lees

The lees are the sediments of dead yeasts that end up on the bottom of the barrel once fermentation is over and the wine has aged.

Ageing on lees is the process of allowing the finished wine to rest on the lees to give it a new flavour profile. When cells in the lees decompose, they release aromatic compounds that interact with the chemical makeup of the wine. In this way, the wine takes on aromas of breadcrumbs, walnuts and yeast. This type of ageing is more common in white wines and rosés.

Cómo se elabora un vino de autor

Did you enjoy our class on tertiary aromas? Don’t forget to watch all the WineClass episodes on the official El Coto de Rioja YouTube channel. Click on the bell icon to be the first to know when we bring out a new video.

Do you know how to store a bottle wine at home without it going off? This is something you’ve probably wondered at some point, and there are many theories on the matter. In the article below, we give you all the advice you need to know from the experts at El Coto de Rioja.

How to store bottled wine at home
Qué son los aromas secundarios

What are the secondary aromas in wine?

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We’re still going with the aromas in wine. Wine tastings wouldn’t be quite the same without them, right? This time, we’re going one step further in our knowledge of the wine world, and we are dedicating a special article to what we call secondary aromas. Don’t miss out on this WineClass! 

Here at El Coto de Rioja, we want to provide you with useful and enjoyable information about everything you need to enjoy wine with all five senses. That’s why we’ve created WineClass, some simple and basic lessons about the world of wines that you can enjoy from the comfort of your own home with a glass of wine in hand.  

In episode four, we’ll be going into the next category of wine aromas We’ve already taken a look at the primary aromas, so now it’s time for the secondary ones. Do you want to know how to find them in your wine? Hit Play!  

Tipos de aromas secundarios vino

Types of secondary aromas

There are aromas that we can’t perceive at first when we bring the glass to our nose before tasting it. This is the case with secondary aromas.  

As you’ll remember, in our special article on the aromas of wine, we already mentioned that there is a special way of detecting this aroma group. For example, we pick out primary and secondary aromas when the glass is still.

When it comes to secondary aromas, we identify them by swirling the glass and smelling it again. The oxygenation is what sets off the aromas that you don’t get with a still glass.  

And what are the secondary aromas? These smells are connected with the winemaking process, specifically with fermentation. Let’s look at the two types! 

1. Alcoholic fermentation

This is the process that turns grape juice into wine. This is possible thanks to the action of the naturally occurring yeasts that are found on the grape skin.  

These yeasts are what provide the specific aromas in the wine and give it its character. In fact, winemakers often select specific varieties to play with these aromas, which we can see on bottles as “selected yeasts”. 

Fermentation is different for each wine, depending on the winemakers at each winery and the type of wine that they want to create. For example, in sweeter wines (such as demi-doux whites), fermentation is halted before it uses up all of the sugar in the grape juice. In this way, they preserve and keep the desired level of sweetness.  

Therefore, the aromas from alcoholic fermentation are those that are reminiscent of yeast, bark, bread, cakes, biscuits or pastries in general.  

2. Malolactic fermentation

At the end of alcoholic fermentation, in some cases, a second process starts in wine: malolactic fermentation. This type of fermentation is used for all red wines and some very specific white wines. 

Instead of yeasts, bacteria are what drive this process (which are also naturally occurring in the grapes).

Their role is to breakdown malic acid into lactic acid to lower the acidity of the wine making it more balanced and silkier and less astringent, among other things. 

In this case, the aromas from malolactic fermentation remind us of cheese, yoghurt, milk and butter.  

Find secondary aromas in our wines!

What do you think? Have you tried the trick we told you about in the video with our El Coto Crianza? Train your sense of smell with these exercises and learn all there is to know about your favourite drink.  

Don’t forget to watch all of the WineClass episodes on the official El Coto de Rioja YouTube channel. Click on the bell icon to be the first to know when we bring out a new class. In the next episode, we’ll talk about the tertiary aromas in wine. 

Aromas primarios herbaceos vino

Meanwhile, you can enjoy special content on our El Coto de Rioja blog: 

Simple tips for ordering wine at a restaurant or bar
Aromas primarios qué son

What are the primary aromas in wine?

By Sin categorizar

Smelling wine is a total sensory experience that can help us appreciate mine so much more. Have you ever noticed that a red wine smells like red fruit or a white wine has notes of citrus or apple? In this article, we’re going to tell you about all the primary aromas in wine so that you can tell them apart and enjoy your wines and tastings so much more.   

En El Coto de Rioja queremos mostrarte de forma didáctica y amena todo lo que debes saberHere at El Coto de Rioja, we want to provide you with useful and enjoyable information about everything you need to enjoy wine with all five senses. That’s why we’ve created WineClass, some simple and basic lessons about the world of wines that you can enjoy from the comfort of your own home with a glass of wine in hand.

In the third episode, we’ll keep going through the aromas in wine which, as we mentioned in the previous classes, can be broken down into primary, secondary and tertiary aromas. Now, we want to talk about primary aromas so that you can pick them out easily. Hit Play!  

Cuáles son los aromas primarios del vino

Types of primary aromas

The primary aromas of wine are the scents that our nose can pick out depending on the variety (or varieties) of grape, the vineyard and the climate. The primary aromas generally fall into four groups: fruit, herbal, floral and mineral 

To pick them out, you need to slightly tilt your glass of wine (to increase the surface area that’s in contact with the air). The best time to do this is right after serving. This way, we can smell them as soon as we bring the glass to our nose.  

1. Fruit aromas

As a rule of thumb, with red wines, it’s more likely that we’ll pick out aromas of red fruit, such as strawberries, plums or cherries, and floral aromas, such as violets and lilacs. 

The more intense the wine is, (such as a Crianza), it’s more likely that it will have scents of dark or purple fruits. These could be black cherries, darker plums and blueberries. In a Gran Reserva wine, we might even get notes of dried fruits such as dried figs, prunes or dates.  

In white wines, we might find citrus aromas such as lemon, lime, orange or grapefruit. It’s also quite common to pick out notes that are reminiscent of fruits like apple, pear, peach or quince.  

What’s more, depending on the climate where the grapes were grown, we can find aromas of tropical fruit such as a guava, mango, pineapple or lychee.  

2. Herbal aromas

A wine that tastes too “green” could be defective. If you notice this aroma, it could be due to the winemaking process, for example, if the grapes used weren’t ripe enough. However, some varieties, such as Sauvingon Blanc, often have a natural herbal aroma.  

Both red and white wines can develop herbal or plant aromas, which can sometimes range from olive, fennel, bell peppers, asparagus or beans. Among the herbal notes, we can pick out scents of mint, bay, oregano, thyme or other plants such as eucalyptus, pine or freshly cut grass.  

Try out wines to discover more aromas!

3. Floral aromas

Among the floral aromas, the most common ones we can find are roses, jasmine, violet or orange blossom, but these notes are very dependent on the variety of grape used. For example, in muscat grapes, we have notes of orange blossom, while Verdejo gives us white flowers, and Cabernet Sauvignon, roses and violets 

4. Mineral aromas

Mineral notes in the scent and taste of the wine are due to the grape having absorbed different chemical elements from the vineyard soil.

Most experts confirm that this mineral taste or scent in mine is generally due to the availability of water on the vineyard, or lack thereof, even though many winegrowers argue that the quality and composition of the soil also plays a role.  

The most common range of aromas we can find are wet earth, granite, slate, chalk, talc, iodine, flint, quartz or pencil lead, among others. 

Aromas primarios herbaceos vino

Did you enjoy our class on primary aromas? Don’t forget to watch all of the WineClass episodes on the official El Coto de Rioja YouTube channel. Click the bell icon to find out when the next class comes out. In the next episode, we’ll be talking about the secondary aromas in wine.  

Do you want to try your hand at hosting a home wine tasting with family and friends? It’s an easy and fun way to share an afternoon together! Here’s a simple article with some basic tips that you can follow to run one like a professional sommelier.   

Tips for a home wine tasting
Cómo maridar vino y chocolate

Easy tricks for pairing wine and chocolate

By Sin categorizar

The elegance and complexity of wine melds with the bitter touch of delicious chocolate. Be surprised by one of the world’s most famous, popular pairings: wine and chocolate. Never tried it? Come along with us and discover the best combinations for pairing these two incredible products. 

Maridar vino tinto y chocolate

Can you pair wine and chocolate?

The answer is a resounding yes. Although it’s also true that it isn’t always easy. When pairing wine and chocolate, you have to consider the characteristics of each product so that, when you put them together, they complement each other instead of cancelling each other out. So, you don’t want to pair just any wine with whichever chocolate you have to hand.  

To know how to pair wine and chocolate, you have to understand something that makes the latter special. Cacao gives chocolate its characteristically bitter flavour we enjoy so much. And it is that bitterness that clashes with wine, because of its famous tannins. 

The more cacao it has (or the purer the chocolate) the harder it is to pair it with wine, as it increases the astringency and feeling of dryness in the mouth. The result can be too aggressive for some palates. So, it’s easier to pair with chocolate that has a bit of milk than with the darker ones.  

3 rules for pairing wine and chocolate

Whether in a bar, ice cream or cake, remember these 3 rules when choosing the perfect wine to pair with chocolate or vice versa. 

  1. The chocolate should always be as sweet or a bit sweeter than the wine you’re going to be drinking.  
  2. The more intense the chocolate, the fuller bodied the wine should be. 
  3. It’s best to choose wines with mid-to-low acidity to compensate for the acidity in the cacao. Tip: avoid sparkling wines like champagne, for example. 
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Reglas para maridar con chocolate
Vinos para maridar con chocolate

Tips for pairing with chocolate

And, after that bit of theory, let’s look at some practical cases for each type of chocolate. Which will you opt for? 

Wines for dark chocolate

Here we apply rule number 2. To pair wine and dark, pure chocolate, it’s best to go for a full-bodied wine, like a red, to strike the right balance between the flavours.   

Will any red wine do? Truth is, the best options are those with Tempranillo, Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon. If you want our personal recommendation, a glass of El Coto Real Reserva red never disappoints. It’s silky, slow on the palate, with mocha and coffee notes that are an amazing pairing for chocolate. 

Wines for milk chocolate

As it has less cacao, with milk chocolate we can go for lighter, softer wines. So, young or Crianza wines (depending on how much milk the chocolate has) and fruity wines, in general, are a great option.  

Remember, if the wine is too strong, it will mask the flavour and nuances of the chocolate instead of enhancing them. From our stocks, we’d recommend 875m red or El Coto Crianza Garnacha. The latter has lovely aromas of cherries and red fruit, plus notes of mocha and cacao. 

Wines for white chocolate

White chocolate is special because, unlike the other types, it is much sweeter and creamier. And this is exactly what we want to highlight with the wine pairing. So, in these cases, it’s best to pair with white wines.  

And, as we had preferences among red grapes, we also have some among white varieties. So, the best option for pairing wine and white chocolate is unquestionably Chardonnay.  

Our favourite Rioja wines in this group are the 875 m Chardonnay or El Coto de Imaz Reserva Blanco. Their butteriness and vanilla aromas will make you love white chocolate even more. 

And that’s it! Did you get it all? We hope your culinary combinations are a great success. And if you still want to learn more about foolproof pairings and find out how to make the best wines part of your dishes, don’t miss these posts on our blog.  

How to pair rosé wines How to choose a good wine to pair with fish and seafood
Cómo empezar con vino tinto

Simple tips for getting into red wine

By Sin categorizar

Interested in the world of wine but don’t know where to start? Have you ventured into whites but don’t dare drink reds? These tips will help you discover how to get into drinking red wine. A fun, easy way to educate your palate. A sure success! 

Vinos tintos para principiantes

3 keys for getting started with wine

Although there aren’t really any wines for beginners, we can voice a few unwritten rules for those without any experience with this alcoholic beverage to make your initiation very gradual and pleasant.  

Which wine to choose

It’s very common that people unaccustomed to drinking wine don’t know the characteristics of each type and, therefore, don’t know where to start. So, it’s best to get advice from expert sources, like this blog, and to do a bit of research on the specifics of each wine or grape variety. This will give you a general idea of the range of possibilities out there.  

Start with light, sweet wines

In general, it’s best to start drinking lighter, fresher, softer wines. Astringency or complexity in a wine can be too much for first-timers. So, it’s best to go for “easy drinkers”, like whites and rosés.  

Ones with sweet, fruity notes (like the El Coto Blanco or El Coto Semidulce), with Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc, tend to be a sure thing. 

Don’t only look at the price

When choosing a good wine, price isn’t the only factor to consider. There are other ways to judge wine quality beyond just the price tag. Our tip is to always opt for ones with quality seals, like the DOs

All of our wines have the DOCa Rioja seal

Tips for drinking red wine

Starting to drink red wine isn’t always so easy, especially if you’re not used to their characteristic bitterness and astringency. However, there is also a range of reds and you can choose one that isn’t as ‘aggressive’ so you can discover all its potential gradually. This is what you need to know to get into reds: 

Pay attention to the ageing

The age of the wine (whether red or white) has a direct impact on its flavour. And, since the goal is to go from less to more complex or intense, the most feasible is to start with young or Crianza wines. Why? Simply because they are lighter wines, fresher and less full-bodied, so they’re easier to drink if you’re inexperienced. Careful! Don’t confuse age with quality. These two things aren’t mutually exclusive.  

Choose the right variety of red grapes

Like we mentioned some white varieties, there are grapes that are better when starting to drink red wine. For example, of all the red varieties, we recommend Tempranillo grapes. This variety is used to make light, low-acidity, hugely aromatic wines like the El Coto Crianza. So you will also find them fascinating on the nose. Whenever you can, go for the fruitier choices. 

Looking for a Tempranillo? Check out all our options!
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Enjoy your glass of wine with a meal

Just drinking a whole glass of red wine can often be a bit much. So, one of the best options for making the experience more pleasant, and even enhancing it, is to pair the wine with food. Because, with the right dish, drinking wine is simpler and more enjoyable.  

Since you’ll be starting off with a fruity red, you can pair it with some snacks like mild cheese. If you want to have it with a meal, try pasta or white meat. 

Pay attention to temperature

Don’t trust everything you hear. All wines aren’t served at the same temperature and not all reds should be had at room temperature. Forget those urban legends! To know the right temperature for a red, white or rosé wine, pay attention to its ageing 

This step is important to ensure you don’t miss out on the nuances of the wine. And we mean both the aromas and the taste of the wine itself. Want to know the right temperature for each wine? Keep our post on this topic to hand. Click here to read it now.  

What serving temperature for my wine?

Dare to drink red wine and fall in love with all its nuances. If you want to learn more about wine, don’t miss our El Coto de Rioja blog, with tricks and techniques to enjoy your new favourite beverage.  

Simple tips for ordering wine at a restaurant or bar

And, if you want to buy a red wine, check out our online shop. You can find your perfect wine using our variety and pairing filters. You’re sure to find the perfect fit! 

Get started with El Coto red wines
Diccionario del vino El Coto

Wine Dictionary: the traits of Verdejo wines and what decanting means

By Sin categorizar

They said that “you can never know too much.” That’s probably why we love every entry in our Wine Dictionary. We’re back with more wine-based vocabulary! 

Today, we’re going to learn what decanting wine means and how to do it, what it means if a wine is varietal, what the grape harvest involves and what Verdejo and Viura wines are.  

The latest entry in your Wine Dictionary. Let’s get started! 

Barricas El Coto de Rioja


In the world of wine, decanting means to move wine from one container into another, typically in order to separate out the natural sediment that settles on the bottom of the barrel.  

During the fermentation process, wine separates out and the lees fall away to the bottom. Decanting is done for two reasons: to oxygenate the wine and to clean it and balance it after getting rid of these sediments.  

It is important to decant a wine with the utmost precision, since we need to adjust the amount of oxygen need to oxygenate but not oxidise the product. To do this, we use wine pumps, deposits that control the oxygenation and reduce the loss of aromas in the wine in the process.  

Wine decanting normally takes place in spring. When the wine goes to the deposits, the barrels in which it is stored are cleaned with steam and pressurised hot water. In this way, we clear out the pores in the wood so that the micro-oxygenation process can take place properly in the wine. Once this is done, the wine (without the sediments) goes back into each barrel.  

Are all kinds of wines decanted? We decant both red wines and white wines. However, depending on the type of wine (such as longer or shorter ageing processes), decanting will have different features. 

Take a look at our Rioja wine online store!


Have you ever heard someone refer to a wine as “varietal”? Even though this expression is quite technical and more commonly used among wine experts and sommeliers, its meaning is no mystery. That’s why our Wine Dictionary is here! 

A varietal wine is one that has been made with just one variety of grape. Simple, right? In a different post, we referred to the famous coupages, ones that, unlike varietal wines, are made from a blend of different types of grape.  

But we should mention that there’s a difference between varietal and monovarietal wines. It’s not the same thing!  

For a wine to be listed as varietal, it needs to have at least 80% of one type of grape. This percentage can change depending on the Denomination of Origin of the wine. Monovarietal wines are the purest and most faithful to their grape variety, because they are made 100% of the variety in question 

In this respect, a monovarietal wine could be deemed a varietal (since it contains over 80% of one variety of grape), but a varietal wine cannot be monovarietal (e.g., this would be the case for a wine that was 80% Tempranillo and 20% Graciano).

Vino contra la depresion

Grape Harvest

The grape harvest is one of the most eagerly awaited moments of the year. Specifically, this is the time when we pick the grapes to eventually turn them into wine 

The DOCa Rioja Regulatory Board draws up a guide to give winegrowers recommendations for when to start this process on their crops. In Spain, the grape harvest normally takes place between late August and early October 

Here at El Coto de Rioja, the harvest is a very special time. After months of hard work, our picking teams and expert professionals get to work in this marvellous process for turning grapes into wine. Would you like to learn more about the harvest and how to pick the grapes on our vineyards of over 700 hectares? Click the button below:  

Fun facts about grape harvesting!


When we talk about Verdejo, we’re talking about a variety of white grapes. They are commonly grown in central northern Spain (within D.O. Rueda), although it also appears in other areas, such as La Rioja. 

This type of grape has intense fruity aromas (apple and citrus) and herbaceous notes. Verdejo grapes are actually perfect for monovarietal wines or for mixing with others, such as Viura (which we will look at below in this Wine Dictionary post) or Sauvignon Blanc. 

Our best example of this is, of course, our El Coto Verdejo, grown at Finca Carbonera, this highest vineyards in all of D.O.Ca Rioja.  

Are you looking for a good white wine? Take a look at these!
Vino Verdejo El Coto
Vino blanco El Coto Blanco


Viura is another popular variety of white grapes. It’s actually one of the most commonly used ones in La Rioja, even though it’s originally from Catalonia.  

What’s special about this grape? The most important thing is, without a shadow of a doubt, its versatility for creating coupages with other varieties because it has a medium acidity level. Its aroma is reminiscent of green apples or juicy pears. With Viura and other grape varieties, we create exceptional white wines such as El Coto Semidulce or El Coto Blanco. That latter is also made with Verdejo grapes. 

Do you want to learn more? Learn about all the varieties of white grapes that go into our El Coto wines in the article below.  

How many varieties of white grapes do you know of?

If you want to keep on learning more terminology from the world of wine, don’t forget to take a look at the other posts in our Wine Dictionary.  

What is a Reserva wine and what do sulphites and tannins do in a wine? (R-S-T) Learn about the power of aftertaste and how to spot an oxidised wine (O-P-R)
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