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Gushing about Grenache: A Grape Spotlight

We are slowly leaving the worst of winter behind yet spring hasn’t quite arrived. I have always considered Grenache a transitional kind of red wine, not as delicate as a Pinot Noir nor a heavy hitter like Cabernet Sauvignon.  When you are in between seasons or in one of those indecisive moods, Grenache could be just the right wine for you.

The grape is characterized by its medium intensity hue, medium body, medium tannin, medium acidity levels and a moderate length finish.  Put that way, I guess it doesn’t sound all that exciting.  Don’t be fooled though, wines made from Grenache are anything but mediocre.  This grape is actually one of the world’s most planted red grapes plus the second-most planted grape in France after Merlot!

Grenache loves the heat and thrives in warm Mediterranean climates- after the winter we’ve had, I don’t blame it.  The grape needs a long growing season to ripen fully and is fairly resistant to drought.  The vine wood is sturdy, hence all of the “old vine” Grenache around, while the grapes themselves are rather delicate because of their thin skins. Heat loving Grenache can ripen to high sugar levels meaning the wines can either leave one with an impression of sweetness or a warming sensation on the palate if the alcohol levels are high.  Oddly enough, it is this characteristic of super ripe, sweet fruit combined with a high alcohol content that makes Grenache a great red wine choice to pair with spicy foods.  The aromas and flavours in sweetly spiced Indian dishes naturally play up those same components in the wine.  If the food has some actual heat, this fruity red wine with medium to high alcohol levels can work well because alcohol is a solvent to capsicum.  If you aren’t convinced, why not try it for yourself?

Most of France’s Grenache is concentrated in the area of the Southern Rhone where it plays a key component in the wines of Cote du Rhone, Gigondas, Vacqueras and Chateauneuf-du-Pape. In the Rhone, and in many other parts of the world, Grenache is successfully blended with Syrah and Mourvedre to make full-bodied, fruity and spicy GSM blends. Outside of the Rhone Valley, Grenache is prominent component in many other red blends from Southern France.  You can also find Grenache in Spain where it is called Garnacha Tinta and on the island of Sardegna, where it goes by the name of Cannonau.

So while you’re spring cleaning and clearing snow in the same day, try one of my favourite expressions of Grenache in our shop. Together we’ll toast the warmer days that will surely come!




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