Fri 21 Nov 2014

Picturing Rioja: Infographics


They say that a picture is worth a thousand words. I’m not sure if that’s true or not, but I’d wish I had these kinds of infographics when I was studying for my wine exams many harvests ago.

I’d always had a mental block when trying to remember the ageing laws for Rioja that cover crianza, reserva and gran reserva wines. The age in bottle and age in barrel would regularly get mixed up (was gran reserva two years in barrel and three in bottle or vice versa?).

To be honest, this remained the case until quite recently, or at least until I started work on the Rioja infographic below. This was created around our current Spanish offer, featuring as it does a number of different styles of Rioja.

Rioja infographic - The Wine Society

Click to enlarge

The idea of an infographic is convey information in a visual format. There are millions of examples on the internet (a quick Google just brought back 8 million results and seem to cover every conceivable subject, including Superheroes and World Octopus Day…).

There seems to be no reason why this approach shouldn’t work for wine so we had a crack at it, firstly with a Loire example earlier in the year and now in more detail with this one. Some of us respond to visual prompts more readily than others. I’m guessing I fall into that category as I can now remember my Rioja ageing laws without thinking about it, shame it’s taken me so many years to realise!

As with everything we do at The Society the end result has to be useful to members, so what do you think? Is this approach helpful? Are there other regions or even other wine related information that you would like to see presented in this way?

Do let us know.

Gareth Park
Campaign Manager

EDIT: 5th December: Following a number of requests, we have reproduced this infographic in PDF format for members to print.

Categories : Spain


  1. Roger Mackenzie says:

    sadly the enlarged image isn’t readable; perhaps another attempt is in order

  2. Dave Pawson says:

    Yes please, very useful… perhaps put a few examples up on the website for ‘testers’ – I admit to lack of knowledge, a simple approach sounds good to me.


  3. Tim Graham says:

    Brilliant. Can it be printed and sent, say, with the vintage chart?

  4. Peter Brennan says:

    This seems a very good idea – in principle. I’m puzzled, though. Traditional Rioja is aged in American oak barrels and is ‘refined’ – but what emerges from American oak barrels is ‘hedonistic’. Is this completely explained by the ageing process – or is it also a matter of traditional versus modern wine-making techniques?
    As an ‘old school’ wine drinker, I would most appreciate being specifically alerted to those wines that I might enjoy – not only where Rioja is concerned.

  5. ST Sayer says:

    I think this infographic is great

  6. Norman Taralrud-Bay says:

    Excellent idea, Gareth – only a pity that it seems illegible when I click on it. I will try to save and see if that helps…

  7. Geoffrey Mercer says:

    This is excellent. The guidance and information is both interesting and helpful.

    It will help me in purchasing one of my preferred wines Silkiness is important to me.

  8. Alan Ford says:

    Thanks for this, Graham. It seems a great idea. As someone has already suggested, perhaps a few ‘testers’ of other regions would help to launch the idea. Perhaps the graphics could be shrunk a little to get the information on a maximum of two sides, although the presentation is attractive as it stands.

    Thanks again.

  9. Roger Mackenzie says:

    thanks Martin.

  10. John Elliot says:

    I think this is a great idea: it could work at different levels i.e. the interested novice and the committed but occasionally befuddled (your Rioja example) more experienced. It would be good to have a card that dealt succintly, for example, with the different grape varieties used in different parts of the Bordeaux constellation. I’m bad at remembering where Merlot dominates…

  11. John Horobin says:

    An excellent innovation; I found it really helpful. I managed to print myself a copy on A4 in a large scale. If you are going to develop the concept then a printer friendly version would be helpful.

  12. Tricia Alderman says:

    This is an excellent idea. Really useful and interesting.
    It’s much quicker to ‘read’ the picture than read the equivalent words.

  13. Stephen Hyde says:

    Really good idea and well-executed. I think we would all recognise that this cannot cover 100% of all Rioja but for us amateurs it is very useful. How about a series of these for different countries/regions? They could be displayed on the website and maybe turned into bookmarks like the French vintage guide?

  14. John Legg says:

    It works well for Rioja so let’s see some other applcations please.
    One comment on this first application. From left to right the three styles use American, American/French,French oak. Logically your barrels would appear left to right as American and then French and yet you have reversed the order and I wonder why?

    • Gareth Park says:

      Thanks for your comment regarding the order the barrels are shown in. I think you’re spot on, it’s more logical in the way you describe so we’ve altered it to reflect this.

      Thanks again.

  15. Stephen says:

    Thanks, a very useful little ‘form-at-a-glance’. Print it as a card and send copies with orders of Rioja. If it works well do the same for other wines.

  16. Michael diMarco says:

    very useful graphics.
    I assume ‘serrated’ means sawn with ref to barrel construction

  17. Richard Goldsby says:

    A really good idea but I agree that an A4 printable format would be better. This format could be developed to de-mystify many regions although the old world seems to have more challenges in that department! Keep up the good work.

  18. Irvine-Fynn says:

    Great idea, more for other regions/wines would be welcome.

  19. Colin Keen says:

    A great idea, it would be very useful if you rolled it out to other wines. One minor point, as mentioned by another member, a printer friendly version would be even better.

  20. J McKenna says:

    Great idea – no problem viewing it on the iPad.

  21. Chris Kelly says:

    Really useful. Not something I know much about, but this does help explain why I find I like some Riojas a lot more than others.

  22. James Ashworth says:

    Please forgive the novice but the narrative has left me confused; against styles, traditional (American Oak) is described as silky & delicate but a similar description is then used for French Oak under the barrel image. Which one is silky and which is richer and more bold? Thanks

  23. tomf says:

    Great graphic. More please! Bordeaux next perhaps?

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