You Say Grenache, I Say Garnacha!

For the first time ever, two European countries have teamed up to promote one grape. Yes! Spain and France – with support from Enjoy, It’s From Europe (an EU-funded marketing campaign) — are touring the U.S., hosting tastings starring the wines from each country made from Grenache (French) and Garnacha (Spanish). Same grape: two words or pronunciations (you should see Tempranillo – seven names for that grape, depending where you are in which country).

I was going to say, “if you like bold reds,” check out Grenache and Garnacha, or “If you like rich whites,” check out Grenache and Garnacha, but honestly: if you like wine – at all – you should check these out, because they are diverse, versatile and yes, AFFORDALICIOUS!

First a few basics to make you feel maybe 5% smarter than you were five minutes ago:

  • France and Spain are the Garnacha/ Grenache HQ of the world! (And from here on out, I’m going to say Grenache, because it’s easier for me to type.) Nearly 93% of the world’s Grenache is planted in these two countries (54% in France and 41% in Spain)
  • Grenache is one of the oldest wine grapes in the world, dating back to 153 BC. (This is, like, 100 years before gladiators were mixing it up in the Roman empire!)
  • Grenache comes in a rainbow of colors! There’s red, white and gris (aka gray).
  • You’ll find this grape used in myriad wines — still whites, reds and rosés, as well as sparkling wines and sweet wines – this grape just gives and gives. There’s something for everyone!

I tasted a beautiful array of Grenache and Garnacha wines at the tasting, and as a certified nerd when it comes to wine, it was FASCINATING to taste the same grape side-by-side, in so many styles of wine.

Whites: They can range from lean and mean, full of flinty minerality and piercing acidity to richer and rounder when Marsanne, or Roussanne is added. I like both styles! The lighter white Grenache wines are great with fish and shellfish, even sushi. The plumper, more robust whites are great with mayo-based salads (like chicken or tuna salad, potato salad) and creamy cheeses. If you like Sauv Blanc or Pinot Grigio, try a lighter Grenache or Garnacha . If you like Chardonnay or Viognier, look for the the weightier wines. A good wine shop person will be able to help you choose.

Rosés: These can be 100% Grenache or sometimes Syrah is added for body and structure. There is not a single rosé made from Grenache or Garnacha that I don’t love! From cheeses to chips, chicken salads to fried chicken sandwiches, these rosés are versatile crowd-pleasers. The phrase “porch pounder” comes to mind, as it would be easy to breeze away an afternoon with friends and a few bottles!

Reds: These range from rooty-tooty fresh n ‘fruity (think a robust Pinot Noir with a pinch of pepper) to full-bodied, intense reds gushing with blackberries, sweet tobacco, baking spices, a little licorice. Plan for burgers, barbecue, grilled sausages, lamb, steak – these wines will slice through rich, fatty meats like a hot knife through cold butter. If you like Merlot, Chianti or Cabernet Sauvignon, I think you’ll like Grenache and Garnacha reds. And of course, there’s my fave GSM – which stands for Grenache-Syrah-Mourvèdre – a classic red blend hailing from southern France.

So what are you waiting for? Your next wine discovery awaits! Explore these wines and let me know what you think! Cheers.

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