Grenache Grape

Grenache (or also commonly known as the Garnacha) is the French word for Grape. So, now you know where the Grenache wine got its name. In Spain, it is known as Garnacha and as Cannonau on the Spanish island of Sardinia. Garnacha is one of the commonly planted and grown grape varieties in the world today. You will find it is grown widely across the Australian subcontinent and also in countries like France, Spain, and United States.

Garnacha is a red-wine grape that can adapt or be adapted to many different functions or activities. This versatility has made it extremely famous with vineyards and wineries. When it comes to wine grapes, Garnacha is thus very popular. Synonyms of Grenache include Granaccia, Lladoner, Tinto Aragones, Cannonau, Alicante, Grenache Noir, Tocai Rosso, Garnacha Tinta, and Garnatxa. 

grenache grape
By Josh McFadden – originally posted to Flickr as IMG_3353, CC BY-SA 2.0, Wikimedia

Details About the Garnacha Plant

Grapevines are mostly planted in the South of France especially Rhone Valley, Provence, and Languedoc-Roussillon. Chateauneuf-du-Pape and Cotes du Rhone in France are the most popular places famous grenache. In Spain, it is grown extensively in the North and East regions.

Grenache plant

Grenache grows as a strong woody wine with a vigorous and hard frame to support it. A very strong wine, it is quite resistant to heat, wind, and drought. This quality makes it exceptionally popular in growing in arid climates, where the other grape varieties will easily fail. It is this hot and arid climate that causes the high alcohol content in these grapes, easily surpassing even 15%.

The vines can grow very old and last a long time too. Several vineyards and wine growers boast that vines can last 100 years. The old vines can produce concentrated wines with a real taste. The grapes exhibit a thin outer skin and ripen late into the season.

History of the Grenache Wine

This grape is extremely popular in countries like Spain and is claimed to almost be its flagship grape. It grows abundantly in Spain due to the dry and hot weather conditions. Its historical records go back as long as the 14th century and it is claimed that it was introduced in Spain by the Aragonese. The origins are however claimed to be in Sardinia. Garnacha grows easily where it can find hot and dry vineyards where other varieties would struggle with the heat. So it’s but natural to find it in France and Australia as well.

Varieties of Grenache Grape

Grenache grapes come in three distinct varieties viz white Grenache, red Grenache, and the obscure white Grenache. The red Grenache is called Grenache Noir, white Grenache is called Grenache Blanc and finally, the last semi-white version is called Grenache Gris. These are perfect for the hot, arid, dry, sandy, and stone soils. They have a long growing season which results in their special taste and flavor. These grapes are also known to age well.

The popularity of Granacha is waning over the last couple of decades. This can be attributed to the introduction of other high-yielding varieties by the vineyards. However, the new entrant in the winegrowers league is China with an estimated 12,000 acres of vineyards dedicated for Garnacha.

What Does the Grenache Wine Taste Like?

Let’s understand the taste in detail. The Grenache fruity taste can be compared to the berry-like characteristics of the Raspberry, Strawberry, and Black Cherry. However, it also exhibits a spicy texture which can be like subtle hints of Cinnamon, Tobacco, and Anise.

It needs middle oak aging with Medium levels of Tannin and Acidity. Acidity and Tannin can vary depending on factors like cropping levels and growing conditions. Alcohol levels have been found in the range of 13.5 – 16%. The flavor is soft on the palate and can be described as berry-flavored and cinnamon spicy taste. It gives a full-body taste and has a relatively high alcohol content compared to other wines.

Due to its excellent taste characteristics, winemakers have used it in port-styled wines. According to wine experts, these wines can be kept bottled for 20 years and still retain the spicy acidic notes.

How to Taste this Wine

Follow these steps to get introduced to Grenache wine and its flavor.

  • See: Pour it in a red wine glass. Have a good look at Grenache poured, check the color and opacity of the wine.
  • Aroma: Swirl the wine in the glass for a few seconds so that it displaces the wine a bit. Take a very brief introductory whiff to adjust your nasal senses to be ready. Then take a deep inhale from the wine glass and let the aroma play with your senses. Wait for a second or two. Now you are ready for the third and final step.
  • Taste: Like the smell, take a small sip to get your senses in the mouth started. Roll the wine in your mouth for a few seconds smoothly. This will give your senses a tingling sensation due to the earthy and spicy flavor. Take a total of 3 sips. Try to sense the alcohol, tannins, and acidity in the first sip. Try to sense the notes on the second. You feel notes like Wood, Spice, and Berries in the taste. And take the final sip to feel it all together.

Food pairing with Grenache

Grenache is one of the best wines to have with food because of its versatile nature. Pairing the wine is especially easy because the taste exhibits a wide variety of flavors. It can be beautifully paired with meats like beef, lamb, pork, game, and chicken. It can go with meats that can be grilled, stewed, or braised without any issues. The spicy taste of Grenache can also pair exquisitely well with spicy or herb-based dishes. It’s also a good pairing with salads and vegetable dishes where it literally “adds to the spice” of the dish.

It’s best to give the wine an hour to decant before it can be served. Served in a red wine glass, the ideal wine temperature at serving should be between 60F and 65F for the best taste.

Photo by Christian Wiediger on Unsplash

Buying Guide for Grenache Wine

Grenache is easily available at your local wine and liquor stores. Due to their popularity, you will also find them in most restaurants. For a start, we have mentioned some of the few well-known and established brands below.

Brands

  • Tablas Creek
  • Stephen Ross
  • ONX
  • Château de Beaucastel
  • Crous St. Martin
  • Henri Bonneau
  • Celler Mas Doix
  • Álvaro Palacios
  • Clarendon

The Popularity of Grenache Wine

Essentially one of the most popular wines, Grenache commands a wide influence. Especially in the areas and regions where it grows. It has also become commonplace because of its easy availability and you will be able to enjoy it without much search. I hope this has been a good introduction to Grenache-based wines and you will love to introduce it to your table.