Grenache, often associated with the coveted wines of Chateauneuf du Pape in France’s Rhone Valley, is actually a grape of Spanish origin. Known as “Garnacha” in Spain, this late ripening red variety needs plenty of hot weather. It’s no wonder, therefore, that Grenache grows in Spain and the south of France where summers can be sizzling.
The Grenache grape is often used in a blend, especially in Chateauneuf du Pape. Its characteristic flavors include red fruits such strawberries and raspberries with hints of spices like white pepper or cinnamon. Because of the heat required to ripen the grape, however, Grenache can be high in alcohol, thus blending is often required to dampen these alcohol levels. The varietal also is moderate in color, so darker grapes such as Syrah are often added to deepen the blends color. Grenache offers soft tannins and less acidity than other red grapes, so it is often blended with higher tannin and more acidic grapes (such as Tempranillo) to balance the wine's structure.
Food-wise, Grenache can swing many directions. Because of the wine’s spicy nuances, it can work well Asian-inspired foods, or spicy cuisines such as Indian. Grenache can pair with rich bold foods such as BBQ meats, game, or even poultry that has been marinated in a big-flavored sauce. Grenache also is a good match for cheeses, including strong cheeses that have been smoked.
Outdoor grilling season has approached. Will not throw something on the "barbie" and pop a Grenache?