In the Variety Focus portion of Sedimentality, we focus on one varietal at a time, highlighting the grape’s origin, flavor profile and pairings. We also include some of our (decently priced) favorite wines made from this varietal, in case our readers would like to sample a well-made example of the highlighted grape. Our second Variety Focus in this series is Grenache, a grape that is understated in the wine world, yet rules the vineyards of Spain. I happen to love the grape and think that it doesn’t receive nearly enough credit. I hope that you enjoy!

Overview

This soft, spicy and typically high in acidity wine is a beautiful juxtaposition of softness and strength.

There are actually both red and white Grenache grape: the red Grenache’s formal name is “Grenache Noir” and is usually referred to as simply “Grenache” while the white grape is distinguished by the title “Grenache Blanc.” We are focusing only on the characteristics of the red wine, or Grenache Noir.

Origin

There are two competing stories regarding the origins of the grape, but it is generally believed to have originated in Spain. Another legend is that it was brought to Spain from Sardinia around the 14th century.

Primary Regions

Grenache is found in warmer climates such as the south of France, the Central Valley of California and in Spain.

Grenache was the primary grape grown in Australia until Shiraz was introduced to the continent in the 1960s.

Characteristics

Grenache is usually a lighter bodied wine. But, like every other wine, there are always exceptions to the rules. There  are some heavier, more full-bodied Grenaches currently in production. Usually, they are sweet, fruity, and have minimal tannins. They can sometimes have a candy quality about them which is highly desired by those who love sweeter, fruitier wines.

Pairing Suggestions

Fuller bodied Grenache wines can hold up against meat dishes, particularly braised meats and stews. (We would probably drink a heavier red with grilled meats: a Grenache is too light to stand up to the char flavors from grilled foods.) Because of the wine’s high acidity, they do surprisingly well with tomato based dishes: the acidity of the wine compliments the tomato sauce. Lighter Grenache wines also work well with vinaigrette in salad.

Serving Temperature

Serve Grenache between 60 and 65 degrees.

Our Suggestions

I highly recommend the Spanish Old Vine Garnacha by Tres Picos.

Tablas Creek’s Rhone Blend, which is predominantly Grenache, is another of my favorites.