When it comes to experiencing the wonders of Spanish wine, nothing beats a trip to Rioja, a world class wine region that offers everything wine lovers want in their lives: idyllic vineyards, fantastic food, tourist friendly wineries, festivals and of course, stunning wines!
Closer to home, there are also many ways to enjoy the wonders of Rioja, organise an al fresco dinner party with friends or family, prepare a picnic with the best Spanish cheese and charcuterie and the bottle of your choice or treat yourself to a Reserva or Gran Reserva on a quiet evening and sip it slowly while deciphering its generous character.
And of course, one of our favourites ways to enjoy wines from Rioja: at a restaurant that serves it along great food, so all you have to do is relax and let them look after you! We have chosen 10 restaurants across Ireland that feature great Rioja wines in their menus, so book a table and indulge in a glass or two while savouring exciting dishes!
This eclectic Mediterranean style restaurant in the heart of Waterford City offers an exciting fusion of flavours from the South of Europe crafted from fresh and local ingredients. Prepare for carpaccios, olives, house smoked haddock, venison and other inviting dishes including premium seafood and charcuteries boards.
Rioja to try: You can choose between Viña Hermosa Crianza, a vivacious Tempranillo generous in red fruit and sweet spice character (€27.50), or Remelluri Reserva Rioja, a complex blend of Tempranillo, Garnacha, Graciano Viura and Malvasía (€39).
Where: 54 John Street, Waterford, Ireland.
More information: bodegawaterford.com
The stylish restaurant within the Fitzwilliam Hotel Dublin has become a destination on its own, thanks to its elegant and flawless service and modern dishes that showcase the best Irish ingredients. Classic dinners will delight in their organic salmon, gnocchi and seared bream, while adventurous palates will be tempted by their scallop ceviche, duck with Romesco sauce and more.
Rioja to try: This chic venue offers The Charge Rioja both by the glass (€9.50) or by the bottle (35.50). This youthful and vibrant wine is a blend of Tempranillo and Garnacha with a dash of Graciano. Ripe red fruits and sweet spice combine to thrill.
Where: 127/128 St Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2
More information: fitzwilliamhoteldublin.com
Galway’s Cava Bodega is one of the best Spanish restaurants in the country. Chef and proprietor JP McMahon has truly gone the extra mile to offer authentic dishes that highlight the flavours of Spain in a warm and inviting atmosphere that reflects nothing but love for the Mediterranean country.
Rioja to Try: With eight Rioja wines, you’ll find one to match any meal! From crisp and light whites like Muriel Blanco (Sauvignon Blanc, Viura; €7.25 a glass, €29 a bottle) to aromatic and fruity such as Spanish White Guerrilla (Chardonnay, €35). Reds include the smooth and fruity Santa María (Tempranillo, €29) and Biurko Joven (Tempranillo, €33), and the rich and full bodied Muriel Crianza (Tempranillo; €8 per glass, €32 per bottle), Palacio Camino Real Crianza (Tempranillo, €34), Rondan Crianza (Tempranillo, €38) and Cuna de Reyes Crianza (Tempranillo, €70 for a Magmum).
Where: 1 Middle St, Galway
More information: cavarestaurant.ie
Enjoy great food surrounded by inspiring decor at Anocht Restaurant, located within The Kilkenny Design Centre. Enjoy stunning views of Kilkenny Castle while waiting for perfectly cooked venison, sirloin steak, Kilkenny Black Leg chicken breast or fabulous local cheesees.
Rioja to Try: You can decide between the fruity, pure, unfiltered and natural Tempranillo ‘Gran Cerdo’, Gonzalo Gonzalo Grijalba (€26) or Hacienda Grimon Rioja Crianza (€33), a blend of Tempranillo, with a touch of Garnacha and Graciano, for textbook taste of classic fine Rioja with moderate ageing.
Where: Castle Yard, The Parade, Collegepark, Kilkenny
More information: anochtrestaurant.ie
This award-winning venue is located on a beautiful stretch of the Garavogue River. It’s a treasure for lovers of Irish cuisine with a contemporary twist. From hand selected fish artfully cooked and presented, to superb beef made to your liking. It’s name, Irish for white swan, evokes the elegance and charm of this must-visit establishment.
Rioja to Try: Enjoy a bottle of Faustino VII (€32.95), a refreshing and aromatic white Rioja made from 100% Viura, the local specialty. Made in a temperature-controlled environment, all care is put into preserving the freshness of this mouth-watering white that will surely enhance your enjoyment of their beautiful seafood.
Where: Rockwood Parade, Sligo
More information: ealabhan.ie
Clonegal’s gem, this multi award-winning restaurant serves memorable dishes such as a 7 hour slow braised beef cheek and a flavourful pan fried fillet of hake with West Cork chorizo, in the charming surroundings of an 18th Century house.
Rioja to try: They offer one of the world’s most prestigious Riojas, Muga Reserva, a deep coloured and intense red that generously regales palates with everything that’s good about Rioja. Balanced and well rounded, it combines forest fruit preserves, vanilla and toast.
Where: Main St, Clonegall, Co. Carlow
More information: sha-roe.ie
If you’re lucky enough to get a table in this cosy and authentic Spanish tapas restaurant in Dublin’s lively Wexford Street, then don’t hesitate as it offers a fabulous dinning experience. Enjoy perfectly seasoned classic tapas like croquetas de jamón, fried chorizo, pulpo a la gallega, calamari and more. Keep an eye for their specials and their group menus, ideal for parties.
Rioja to try: Two gorgeous Rioja wines to choose from; Hacienda Lopez de Haro Reserva, a smooth and velvety Tempranillo–Graciano blend made in a traditional style, and Artuke Pies Negros, also a Tempranillo-Graciano combo that offers a younger and fruitier side of the region.
Where: 12 Wexford St, Dublin 2
More information: lastapasdelola.com
This relaxed and spacious restaurant and bar combines influences from New York, Paris and London and offers an upscale bistro experience in which you can taste seasonal and fine ingredients. If flavours like truffled goats cheese, fresh Dublin Bay prawns and foie gras parfait spark your interest, this is one to visit!
Rioja to try: If you want a real treat, Conde Valmar Reserva will do. This concentrated red is a blend of mostly Tempranillo, with some Mazuelo and Graciano. Balanced and with a pleasant presence of oaky notes, this inviting Rioja is ideal with rich red meat dishes and it will also go down wonderfully with an assortment of fine matured cheese.
Where: 26 Fitzwilliam Pl, Dublin
More information: sueseystreet.ie
Regarded by many as the best restaurant in Kildare, this Francophile venue serves country-style French cuisine in a well lit and cheerful surrounding, specially on a sunny day, where you can opt to enjoy your meal in the terrace with views of the canal. Quintessentially French dishes await you as well as top quality cheeses.
Rioja to try: They feature a mouth-watering Garnacha from Palacio del Camino Real (€26). The variety, often relegated to background singer, performs in the spotlight on this sharp and red-berry packed red, fresh, youthful and with moderate tannins. A dash of Tempranillo and Viura help round this versatile and food-friendly tinto.
Where: The Harbour, Naas, Co. Kildare
More information: viedechateaux.ie
This stunning Art Deco inspired multi award-winning venue is a glamorous food treasure within the luxurious Maryborough Hotel and Spa in Cork. Experience a fusion of local produce and global tastes, served in an intimate setting. They proudly list their trusted suppliers including fresh produce from Cork’s legendary English Market, La Rousse Fine Foods and Ballinwillin Boar and Venison, just to name a few.
Rioja to try: Three to taste here, so take your time and ponder on whether you should drink a bottle of Club Privado Rioja (€30) a balanced crowd pleaser with juicy red fruit on nose and palate; Baron de Ley Rioja Reserva (€40), a spicy and intense red of long-lasting flavours and complexity; or Bodegas Luis Canas Rioja Crianza (€45) a balanced and classic style of Rioja that offers the perfect combination between youth and age, fruit and spice.
Where: Maryborough Hill, Douglas, Cork, Ireland
More information: maryborough.com/Bellinis
Gabriela’s passion for writing is only matched by her love for food and wine. Journalist, confectioner and sommelier, she fell in love with Ireland years ago and moved from Venezuela to Dublin in 2014.
Since then, she has written about and worked in the local food scene, and she’s determined to discover and share the different traditions, flavours and places that have led Irish food and drink to fascinate her.