God bless the world wide web. Something that I confess had never occured to me - the fact that Spain is the only wine producing country not to refer to their red wine as red (rosso) or black (negro) but instead as 'tinted' (tinto). Tom Perry, Rioja expert writes on his blog, inside rioja, that it is all to do with the fact that in olden times it was white wine rather than red for which the region was famous. Tom takes up the story:
"Did you ever wonder why red wine in Spanish is called tinto (tinted) instead of rouge (red) as in French or negre (black) as in Catalán? According to María José (López de Heredia from R. López de Heredia Viña Tondonia), most red wines in Rioja in the 19th century were whites that were ‘tinted’ with red wine to pay lower taxes! While some reds were produced and exported to Bordeaux, according to historical records, most Rioja was white and shipped to Alsace.
In fact, in the 19th century, doctors recommended consumption of white wine for health reasons because the tannins in red were believed to be harmful."
Just when you thought you knew what Rioja was all about! Read the whole interesting piece here.