Grenache is an appealing sort of a grape. It has lovely fruit character, it is medium bodied and it has soft tannins and a juicy texture. The flavour of Grenache is usually in the red fruit category – red cherries, red plums, strawberry and so on. In terms of texture, it’s sort of plump and jolly. In the vast majority of cases, Grenache is blended to give it more structure, colour and flavour, all of which help beef it up a bit.
In France Grenache lives in the southern Rhône and in the Languedoc/Roussillon areas. This sun loving variety loves these warm and mild climates where it positively thrives. The most famous wine in the southern Rhône is of course Châteauneuf du Pape (Grenache being only 1 of the 13 varieties permitted in these wines), and as well as all the Côtes du Rhône reds, there are of course the fabulous areas of Lirac, Vacqueyras, Gigondas and so on to explore too. The gorgeous vins doux naturels red dessert wines of Maury in the Roussillon are made from Grenache. Outside of France, it is widely planted in Spain where it is known as Garnacha. As for the new world Rhône style blends are to be found in South Africa, California and in Australia which is home to some of the oldest Grenache and Syrah vines in the world.
Grenache is rarely the single ingredient in a wine. Its traditional partners are Syrah (aka Shiraz) and Mourvèdre (this holy trinity is often referred to as a GSM blend). Carignan and Cinsault are also often involved, particularly in the Languedoc and Roussillon. In Rioja, Tempranillo is the principle grape, but is blended with Garnacha and Mazuela.
Grenache also lends itself to making rather delicious rosé wines.
Southern Rhône reds go brilliantly with roasted meats and stews. Because the wines don’t have huge tannins, they need softer, well cooked meats.
Glazed ham or gammon with cloves is pretty spectacular with a GSM blend, either from France or Australia.
Languedoc Grenache blends go brilliantly with stews and casseroles.
Maury and dark chocolate is a match made in heaven.
New world GSM or a gutsy southern Rhône version is great with marinated BBQ ribs.