After my trip to Catalonia, whenever I needed to purchase a bottle of wine, I found myself browsing supermarket shelves for Rioja wine. Rioja wines are wonderful, and remind me of jamon, paella and Mediterranean. They come from a famous wine-producing region in Spain. If you’ve been trying to find some wine which is great value for money, - look no further.

Rioja is generally associated with red wine. This wine is fresh, has remarkable aroma, and wonderful bouquet. White and rosés Rioja are also very good, but red is my favorite. The classification of Rioja wines is based on aging in oak barrels and bottles, and Rioja wine categories are largely determined by wine aging periods. The following information won’t make you an expert, but it will surely help you feel comfortable whenever you need to select a bottle of wine as a present, for a special occasion or just for a simple dinner with friends.

Rioja wines fall into three major categories: Crianza, Reserva, and Gran Reserva. These beautiful names largely have to do with the length of aging. There are also young wines, which are wines in their first or second year.

Crianza wines are aged at least one year in oak barrels, and stored in bottles for at least another year. They are the youngest wines of these three categories. Crianza wine is usually made from grapes of the third, fourth or fifth crop. Prices for Crianza Rioja generally range from $6 to $20.

Reserva wines are made from superior grapes and are aged longer, 18-24 months in oak barrels, and 12-24 months in bottles. They have deep, intense and complex flavors and are perfect with grilled foods, game and cheeses. Prices range from $14 to $40.

Gran Reserva wines are made only in exceptional years from a selection of grapes. It is aged at least for three years in oak barrels and a year in bottle before release. Exquisite and delicate, it is known for being deep, with hints of wild berries, cedar, smoke and tobacco. Prices can start at $18 and up to quite a lot for a bottle.

Red Riojas are wonderful food wines. Crianza will go well with spicy food, Reserva will perfectly suit a piece of beef, or a steak, and Gran Reserva is a great match for stews, game, or anything as fine and exclusive as the wine itself.

Rioja Vintage of 1996, 2001, 2003, and 2004 is considered an excellent choice. If you buy a bottle of Rioja Cirsión 2003 from Roda or Rioja Transnocho 2002 from Fernando Femirez de Ganuza, you won’t regret it. More than that, you are most likely to join the ranks of Spanish Rioja wine fаns.