All You Need To Know About Grenache
Grenache (Garnacha) is a red-wine grape grown extensively in France, Spain, Australia and the United States. It is particularly versatile both in the vineyard and the winery, which may explain why it is one of the most widely distributed grapes in the world.
Grenache is the French name for the grape, but it has a number of synonyms. In Spain, where it is one of the country's flagship varieties, it is known as Garnacha, and on the island of Sardinia it has been known for centuries as Cannonau.
The Garnacha grape was born in the northern region of Spain known as Aragon. There, the grape began to be cultivated and was originally used for both single varietal wines as well as for blending.Due to Aragon’s location on the border of France, Garnacha traveled over the Pyrenees mountains and found another home in the Languedoc-Roussillon region of Southern France. As a result of the language difference, the French called the grape Grenache and from the Languedoc, the grape traveled to the Southern Rhone where it became famous.
In the Southern Rhone, French winemakers were looking for a grape that could be blended with the other famous varieties of the region. The grape they sought would add body, alcohol and fruity flavors to their wines. They found that grape in Grenache and it was there that the famous, and highly collectible, Châteauneuf-du-Pape wine blend was born.
Grenache's versatility provides winemakers with all sorts of possibilities. Grenache-based rosé is one of southern France's signature wine styles. The variety is common in Cotes de Provence wines along with Cinsaut and Mourvedre.
Grenache is a vigorous and hardy vine, often grown as free-standing bush vines. It is resistant to wind and drought, making it suitable for use in arid climates in California and South Australia. Because it is often grown in hot environments, the alcohol levels of Grenache-based wines can be very high, often surpassing 15 percent ABV. Some Australian winemakers use Grenache as the base for fortified, Port-style wines, but its most common use in the country is in the GSM blend – the classic combo of Grenache – Shiraz – Mourvedre.
Grenache berries have thin skin and ripen late in the growing season. Acid and tannins can be variable depending on growing conditions and cropping levels, but tend towards the low-medium end of the spectrum. Produced as varietal wine, Grenache exhibits rich, spicy, berry flavors, particularly raspberry
Grenache Food Pairings
Grenache pairs well with slow-cooked meats like pork or lamb. Fatty meats like lamb shoulder or shank suit bold Grenache flavors well. When making braises or stews, using a dark, winey sauce can help bring out the fruity Grenache flavors the wine has.
Grenache also goes great with well-seasoned and spiced foods, like goulash or light curries such as rogan josh. This wine is a natural companion to slightly sweet dishes, like those in Moroccan cuisine. At the same time, Grenache wines also complement more smoky flavors and make a great companion to barbecue.