Grenache/Garnacha is a thin-skinned black grape variety known by “Grenache” in France and “Garnacha” in Spain. The wine is known for its full body and substantial sugar, which creates a high alcohol potential. Across the world it is enjoyed as both a single varietal and well-respected blending partner to some very famous wines. The grape grows most successfully in warm to hot climates, which makes it suitable for France’s Southern Rhone region and Spain.
This grape has low acidity, low-medium tannin and high alcohol. Because Grenache/Garnacha can ripen to high sugar levels, it has a high alcohol potential when the sweet juice is fermented dry. It is known for its red fruit and jammy flavors, with an emphasis on red cherry, strawberry, raspberry, and plum. It has a concentrated and rich flavor profile with subtle notes of perfume and spice. Aged expressions pick up barrel notes of cedar, cinnamon and sweet spice. Bottle-aged wines further go on to develop notes of leather and raisins from slow, long-term oxidation.
Grenache is the most widely-planted black grape variety of France’s Southern Rhone region. It is able to thrive due to the region’s hot, dry climate. Here, it is commonly blended along with Syrah and Mourvèdre to create the well-known “GSM” blend that is duplicated worldwide. In this blend, Grenache contributes the red and jammy notes, Syrah brings its color and tannin, and Mourvèdre adds its black fruit, deep color and meaty flavor. Grenache’s most famous blending partners are found in Châteauneuf-du-Pape (translated as Chateau of the Pope), where winemakers can choose from 13 grape varieties. In most cases, Grenache is the dominant variety, and in other cases its the lone grape.
In Spain, Garnacha is blended with Tempranillo and Carignan for Rioja and Priorat blends, respectively. Priorat wines are commonly expensive due to their location. The grapes are grown on steep slopes that require hand-harvesting for safety measures. Also, very old vines with low yields are used to make the wine, which increases the price. Lastly, Priorat wines are made in smaller quantities, which increases its selling value. Garnacha is also grown in Navarra, Cariñena, and Calatayud, where its perfume and high alcohol potential create tasty blends.
Grenache/Garnacha pairs well with smokey and grilled foods, like BBQ meats, grilled lamb chops, or fire-roasted veggies. It also compliments savory dishes like roasted poultry, slow-roasted pork, braised meats, sweet Italian sausage, salmon, trout, and vegetable stews. Many people enjoy it along side of Asian cuisines, spicy herbs and rosemary spices.
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