At a Rioja tasting last week, the undoubted best sip of the night was the  Faustino I Gran Reserva, 1996.

Rioja is a region in Spain, and the wines from that region – mostly reds – are also called Rioja. These wines are most frequently associated with the country, and there are some excellent values out there.

Deep and caramel-like, the  Faustino I Gran Reserva, 1996, has some fruit (cherries are a usual descriptor) and enough acid to perk up the tongue.

More importantly, the wine has the indescribable flavor of the earth that I don’t find in all riojas (especially the younger ones or crianzas).  Made of 85% Tempranillo (the key grape in the wines of this region), and aged in oak, this is the flagship of the Faustino line.

Available at Binny’s for around $30, it’s a wine to drink now or hold: a super sip.

If you have a favorite wine in any price range, tell us about it.

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David Hammond

David Hammond, a corporate communications consultant and food journalist living in Oak Park, Illinois, is a founder and moderator of, the 8,500 member Chicago-based culinary chat site. David...