The CRIANZA - lesser in price and younger, released after 2 years of aging.
Next the RESERVA- costing more and aged 3 years.
Finally the GRAN RESERVA - the top of the line and most expensive and aged 5-7 years. There's more to learn about these wines and it's preferable NOT to read your clip notes on the subway en route to the tasting...
Other prep you can do before a tasting, is walking around the house holding a glass of red, a notepad + pen + a plate of snacks, while chatting. Multi-tasking is required skill at any tasting. Along with carrying around stuff, are the activities of swirling, "nosing and chewing the wine," tasting and commenting. So it can be quite intimidating if you haven't prepped ahead. Remember not to wear a white shirt and leave your perfume at home.
I would give just about anything for this red and black Osborne "toro" T-shirt...Hmmm, wonder if they would like a nice watercolor..?
I got to taste these little red gazpacho soups. Did you know the secret of good traditional gazpacho is to add some stale, dry bread, soaked in a basic vinaigrette? Throw it into the blender with the rest of the ingredients and you'll end up with a much creamier texture and a more authentic Spanish gazpacho.
On a color note, Red + Black seem to be Spain's national colors. The flag is Red and Yellow with a touch of Black. The bullfight is full of Red + Black: Matadors, the bull, the red cape. Then there are flamenco dancers and gazpacho. And finally the Rioja red wines in their Black bottles.
Rioja is less than 5 hours from Bordeaux and quite a few French winemakers brought their expertise to Spain when phylloxera bug attacked their French vineyards in the 1800's. So it's no wonder Riojas have a "Bordeaux style" to them.
Oh and don't be disappointed it you just get a slug of wine to taste. 1 1/2 tablespoons is average. And don't forget to spit and drink plenty of water in between tastes. This time I remembered :)