Look to Discover Grenache as a Red Option

We are back this week highlighting another red grape variety that has lower tannins.  This week, I’m excited to talk about Grenache.  This is a grape that I’ve had a long-storied history with.  Again, when I first started drinking wine (as a major amateur), I was looking for cheaper options since I was a poor college student.  One of the first that I picked out was a Cotes Du Rhone.  Did I know what I was purchasing?  Not a clue.  It had a cute label; the price point was good, and it seemed mysterious in a way. 

After opening, I found that I quite liked the red fruit, and it was a red wine that did not burn when I chugged it (I had no idea of what sipping was).  Years later, I found out the burn is a combo of alcohol and mostly tannin.  I just knew that I liked it with my roasted bluefish and the combo worked.

Years later, I understood why.  Grenache is a grape variety that I love to play with, but I do spend some time researching the options.  I’m big on drinking quality for the price and there are great options out there for a few minutes of time reviewing what’s on the shelf.  I especially love the Southern Rhone options (including Tavel Rose options in summer).  All of these wines are exceptionally affordable, great on their own, but I love pairing with food.

How to Pronounce

There are two legal names for this grape.  You will normally see it as Grenache which is pronounced:

However, it also can be called Garnacha which is pronounced:

Important Facts

Best Areas for Wine Production

Grenache is used as a blending grape sometimes since it adds fruit and softer tannins to a blend.  However, I believe it makes a lovely red wine and also a great rose from the right regions.  It shines in some of the following regions below:

  • Cotes du Rhone
  • Tavel
  • Chateauneuf du Pape
  • Priorat
  • Paso Robles
  • Southern Australia

Research Helps

I’ve mentioned research before.  One of the great options that we have today is being able to review a wine quickly in the store.  When I started, you could research before you went to the store to try and find a particular wine (which you never could).  Or you talked with someone in the store to get their option.  Today….we have the lovely cellphone (aka computer) in our hands that we can search for anything in a moment’s notice.

Why am I mentioning something that is obvious?  Grenache is one of the varieties that I will spend a few minutes looking up options.  All of them are priced within the same range.  More importantly, they tend not to have any solid descriptions of what you may be purchasing.  In the past, I’ve picked up a few bottles that were average when one right beside it for the same price was rated higher. 

Spend the few moments looking and you will be rewarded.  Also, a great bottle can be purchased for less than $20.

You need to try the Rose Versions

OMG…I love Rose wine.  There was a great shop in Austin where the vendor always kept 50 rose options on the shelf at any time.  I finally asked why so many?  His response – Why would not have this option at any time? 

He was right.  In Austin, the weather was built for Rose.  This is a great refreshing option with good fruit, that’s affordable.  It only makes sense to sip on a glass at all times.  Now living in Michigan, I still love Rose (even MI options) in the warmer months (yes, we have them).  However, my benchmark for Rose around the world is Tavel.

This is a region in Southern Rhone that focuses on making Rose wines.  I’ve never tasted a Tavel wine and been disappointed.  Definitely check these out as well. 

Grenache’s Profile

Here’s what you will typically find in a glass of Grenache:

Sweetness level:  dry to off dry

Acid level: medium-  to medium +

Body:   medium to medium +

Tannin levels from grape:  medium

Typical Aromas:  black cherries, black olives, black pepper, blackberry, cloves, coffee, cooked plum, gingerbread, gravel, honey, leather, orange peel, raspberries, roasted nuts, rosemary, spices, strawberries, tar

Typical Flavors:  black cherries, black olives, black pepper, blackberry, cloves, cooked plum, gingerbread, gravel, leather, orange peel, raspberries, strawberries, tar

Anchor for me

Grenache for me is a combination of the flavors, aromas, and mouthfeel.  Mostly, it’s in the aromas of olives and plums which are unique and the combination of flavors and softer tannin levels.

Final Thoughts

Grenache honestly is a grape that I forget about until I start to walk down a wine aisle.  I find that weird for me since I love the Mediterranean flavor profile.  I do always keep one in my fridge for times I want to drink something with fruit that is lower tannins and enjoyable with or without food.


Next week, I will be sampling grenache and giving you my opinion on something to consider purchasing.  In the meantime, while it’s cold outside, consider picking one up and trying it.  This is another grape that does not receive the recognition it deserves.

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