The soil of Cariñena resembles Campo de Borja with underlying chalk and broken rock topped with brown alluvial sand. However close to the river the underlying rock is slate with a greater coverage of alluvium. In common with Campo de Borja a continental climate rules with hot summers and harsh winters. There are frequent frosts in spring. The major grape varieties of Cariñena are Garnacha and Cencibel (Tempranillo), supplemented with some Cariñena, Mazuela, and Cabernet Sauvignon for red Spanish wines and Viura for white Spanish wines, either with or without the addition of Garnacha Blanca or Parellada. Cariñena was once renowned for the high alcoholic content of its wines. For that reason they are often now avoided. Today’s consumers prefer lighter, more elegant wines than heavy, very alcoholic ones. This is a major problem for an area that is bathed in hot sunshine. Yet despite this a new generation of Spanish wine-makers are managing to make very acceptable wines. It is impossible for Cariñena to make a wine that is truly light in characteristics because of the extreme heat of summer and the nature of the soil - which is a blessing for connoisseurs of a wine full of character and strength.
Most of the red Spansh wines are 12.5-13%, significantly lower than the 15% or even 18% for which Cariñena was famous not so long ago. Cariñena Blanco is fresh and reasonably dry. The high acidity of the Viura grape (Macabeo) makes the wine pleasing to drink but do not expect to find any outstanding wines among them. Drinking temperature for this Spanish wine: 46.4- 50.0°F (8-10°C).
Cariñena Rosado is like that of Campo de Borja, but with a stronger taste and often with greater alcohol. Drink this Spanish wine at: 50-53.6°F (10-12°C). This red Spanisn wine has the same age classification as all other Aragonese wines. The ordinary Cariñena Vino Joven is not aged in oak and is meant to be drunk when young. The Crianza has been kept in oak for at least six months and then further in the bottle before being released for sale, while Reserva wines are kept in the barricas for at least two years and a further three years in the bottle. Generally the vinos jovenes are chiefly made with Garnacha, while the matured wines are produced with Tempranillo. Drink the vinos jovenes (Spanish wine)at 53.6-57.2°F (12-14°C).
Drink crianza, reserva and gran reserva at 57.2- 60.8°F (14- 16°C). Cariñena also has a long tradition of making matured sweet Spanish wines that are intentionally exposed to the air and later oxygenated in large vats. These rancio wines are similar to those found at Maury and Banyuls in southern France but they lack the finesse of the French wines. If you encounter one of these rancio Spansih wines take a careful sip first to ensure you really do wish to continue drinking. Some of the wines are of very indifferent quality. The drinking temperature according to preference can be either well-chilled at about 46.4°F (8°C) or at room temperature (approx. 64.4°F/18°C).