Happy International Grenache day to all you wine lovers! September 17th is the day to celebrate a grape that is still fairly unknown in the U.S., despite being the most planted variety on the planet.
Originally from Spain, Grenache is a grape that can make wines with many different characteristics depending on where its grown and produced. As a single varietal wine it is found mostly in Spain and South America, as a blending grape, Grenache is found…well…everywhere else. You will find it accompanied by other French varieties like Syrah, Mourvèdre, Cinsault, and Carignan (you will likely recognize this blend as originating from the Rhône Valley).
Wine made from grenache are often medium-bodied, with lovely acidity and fine tannins, traditional offerings from Europe have cherry and raspberry characters, with delicious herbal notes. They are perfect for pairing with fatty meats such as pork and beef, and can be spectacular with herb-roasted leg of lamb. The grape also accounts for some of the world's best rosés ranging from affordable Spanish styles, the regal and delicate pink wines of Provence, and the more powerful versions from Tavel in the Southern Rhône.
In Spain, where it is known as Garnacha, the grape has long been the subject of a contentious dispute of origin with the Italian islanders of Sardinia, where it goes by the name Cannonau. Historical records are fuzzy at best with both grape names first appearing in the 16th century. But the general consensus, based on new DNA profiling, gives the nod to Spain on the basis that the country boasts a greater number of grenache mutations, a genetic hallmark of a plant's most likely origin.
Over the past decade or so, wines made solely from Grenache have begun to appear more frequently in shops and restaurants, as they are thought of as being high quality for the money spent – and deservedly so. Making it very easy indeed to go out and buy a bottle for dinner tonight, as soon as you’re done reading this article.