Red wines are a perennial favorite, yet many people are unfamiliar with the spectacular reds made from the Grenache grape. It's too bad, really, that so few recognize the potential greatness of humble Grenache, because the grape yields a smokey, earthy, spicy, and delicious wines that pair well with many foods. If you've never tried a red wine made from Grenache before, then you just might want to pick up a bottle the next time you visit your local wine shop.
Blush wine lovers may be familiar with a light pink wine known as white Grenache. Made from the either Grenache Blanc or the Grenache Rose grapes, white Grenache is a relative of red Grenache; however, its flavor provides no insights into the wonders that await in red Grenache wines. Many varieties of Grenache exist, including Grenache Noir (from which the red Grenache wines are made), Grenache Gris, and Grenach Rosé. The Grenache Noir grape is the second most planted grape in the world. In Spain, the Garnacha grape (Spanish for Grenache) graces delicious, smokey Priorats, while in the Rhône region of Southern France, expert winemakers blend Grenache with several other grapes to make Old World style Chateauneuf-du-Pape wines. You can find this red wine grape growing in many other wine producing regions, as well, including Australia, California, Sardinia (where it is known as Cannonau), and multiple other regions around the world.
Youthful Grenache wines yield fleshy fruit bombs that practically explode on your palate. As they age, the wines open up with flavors of black currants, blackberries, tobacco, and dried apricots. Both new and old wines may have an earthy flavor that renders wines made with the Grenache grape very recognizable. The fruity and earthy flavor profile of the wine helps it to flesh out stronger, more tannic grapes, providing a palate-pleasing roundness that the wines wouldn't have without the addition of Granache.
While Grenache ages fairly quickly as a varietal, when blended with other wine grapes, the wines often have significant staying potential. This is especially true of Rhône wines blended with Grenache, which hold up well because of the backbone of the other grapes blended in the wine.
Traditionally, winemakers age Grenache-based wines in old oak rather than new, which gives it a broad-based appeal when paired with food.The light base of fruit and tannins, as well as the lack of significant spiciness imparted by new oak, allows Grenache to really compliment many of the foods you eat, and it stands up well to spicy foods without overwhelming them. Some foods to try with your Grenache-based wines include:
- Beef Burgundy
- Tomato-based soups and stews
- Lobster Thermidor
- Cioppino or bouillabaisse
- Beef stroganoff
- Mushroom dishes
- Chili con carne
- Roasted vegetables
- Pasta with red sauce
Grenache Wines to Try
Many Grenache-based wines are extremely affordable due to the prevalence of the grapes. Try some of the following:
- Los Rocas de San Alejandro Garnacha
- Black Slate Porrera Priorat
- Sélection Laurence Feraud Côtes du Rhône Villages Séguret
- Domaine de Pesquier Côtes du Rhône
- Rosemont Estate McLaren Vale GSM
You can also stop by your local wine retailer and ask for recommendations. Many have delicious Grenache-based wines in stock that you will love. If you've never tried Grenache before, then you are in for a treat. The next time you plan a meal, consider an accessible Grenache as your wine of choice.