Vines were first planted in Rioja during Roman times, under the shade of the Sierra de Cantabria and at the confluence of the mighty Rivers Ebro and Oja (Rio Oja – hence the name). While the region is most famous globally for its glorious wines, Rioja’s plentiful water and ideal climate means it also thrives as an agricultural and gastronomic center. It’s home to world-class lamb and goat cheeses, plus stunning produce like pears, plums, marcona almonds, red peppers, mushrooms, garlic and more.
In her book, The Wine Region of Rioja, Spanish culture expert Ana Fabiano suggests a plate of roasted white asparagus (a regional specialty) and mushroom aioli with barrel-fermented whites like this. Another perfect appetizer would be a plate of local cheeses, like nutty Manchego (sheep cheese) or cured Camerano (goat cheese). At dinner, try roasted chicken or pork tenderloin.