Grenache (pronounced gruh-nahsh) is one of my absolute favorite red grapes. The first time I sipped this varietal was as a Spanish Garnacha, and I fell in love at first sip with its deep, juicy plum and red berry flavors and soft texture. Since then, Grenache/Garnacha has held a very special place in my heart. It’s a rare day that I see it on a restaurant’s wine list and pass it over.
Grenache/Garnacha is the second most widely planted red grape in the world. If you have never heard of it, you might be wondering how that’s possible. Well, Grenache is actually one of the world’s most popular blending grapes. Although it is an absolute superstar as a single varietal wine, it is also widely blended with other grapes the world over to provide luscious fruit and to help boost alcohol levels in the finished blend.
What is a Grenache Blend?
Grenache/Garnacha is the most widely planted red grape in Spain, often blended with Tempranillo, as in Rioja, and is the base of Priorat. In France, it is part of the trio known as “G-S-M” (Grenache-Syrah-Mourvèdre) that makes up many popular Southern Rhône blends. Grenache is also commonly vinified as a rosé.
Grenache has it all, from juicy blackberry, plum, cherry, strawberry and currant, to spicy black pepper and licorice, as well as floral and earthy notes (think violets and rose petals over tobacco and leather), and when oaked, lends notes of cocoa and vanilla. The soft tannins lend a velvety texture on the palate that even the most fickle can’t help but fall in love with.
Grenache/Garnacha can stand up to rustic and earthy dishes with game meats, pork, and beef as well as those with tomato sauce, or even a hearty paella. Hard cheese and dark chocolate are simple pairings that will make this grape variety shine.