The wine world’s equivalent to the little black dress is red Rioja from northern Spain, a classy option suitable for any occasion. Few wines are as versatile with food, satisfy as broad a range of tastes or deliver as much value for the dollar.

While the Rioja region produces white and rosé wines, too, the vast majority are tempranillo-based red blends. What makes these wines such crowd-pleasers — and such remarkable food partners — is that they have a concentration of flavor and complexity per sip without feeling heavy on the palate.

The secret of their success is a happy confluence of favorable geography and delicious historical traditions. Being sandwiched between the cooling influence of the Atlantic to the north and the milder Mediterranean to the southeast, Rioja’s vineyards produce some of Spain’s finest tempranillo.

The resulting deep color and naturally high acidity of Rioja-grown grapes makes their wines eminently suited to long-term barrel aging. This French technique, brought to the region in the 19th century by northern neighbors from Bordeaux, concentrates the plum and cherry flavors of their wines and adds a cognac-like layer of toasted almond and vanilla aromatics to wines like this one.

The Reserva designation on labels guarantees a wine that has spent extra time in both barrels and bottles before release, so you can drink a mature wine at its peak.

For FDWINE27. A rioja is a versatile and affordable wine that suits all occasions
Handout
For FDWINE27. A rioja is a versatile and affordable wine that suits all occasions

Campo Viejo Rioja Reserva Rioja, Spain (13%)

On sale for $11.99 through March 1 (regularly $14.99) PLCB Item #9327

Also available at: Gloucester City Bottlestop in Gloucester City, N.J., $12.99; Hops & Grapes in Glassboro, N.J., $13.98; Total Wine & More in Wilmington and Claymont, Del., $14.29.