Betty's Wine Musings

The Joys of Grenache, a Wonderful Rhone Grape

I’ve been falling in love with Grenache for a number of years, so I thought I would share some of what I love about this grape in the hopes that I can inspire some of you to get to know it and love it.


What Is Grenache, and Where Does It Come From?

Grenache is a red grape that originates in the Rhone region of France. According to WineEnthusiast, the Rhone wine region starts in central France, just south of Lyon, and stretches almost to the Mediterranean Sea. The Rhone region is split into north and south. In the north, Syrah is the dominant red grape. In the south, there are many more red grapes, including Syrah, Grenache, Mourvedre and Cinsault. The grape is now widely grown in France, Spain, the United States, Australia and even China. In the United States, the wonderful Paso Robles winery Tablas Creek is responsible for making this grape and other Rhone grapes so popular. They have worked with Château de Beaucastel in Châteauneuf-du-Pape since 1989 to bring in cuttings of Côtes du Rhône wine grapes to America.

What Are the Characteristics of This Grape?

Grenache gives you aromas and tastes of strawberry, black cherry and raspberry, along with hints of anise, tobacco, citrus rind and cinnamon. Madeline Puckett of Wine Folly says that “The unmistakable candied fruit roll-up and cinnamon flavor is what gives Grenache away to expert blind tasters. It has a medium-bodied taste due to its higher alcohol, but has a deceptively lighter color and is semi-translucent.”

Puckett tells us that French Grenache and American Grenache are quite different. French Grenache is known for its more smoky herbal notes including oregano, lavendar and tobacco. It’s also lower in alcohol because of the region’s cooler climate. American Grenache doesn’t have the herbaceousness of its French counterparts and instead provides aromas of licorice and flowers.

A Sweet/Dry Combo

When you first taste Grenache, you might decide that you’re tasting a sweet wine. But truth be told, this is a very dry wine. Why the sensation of sweetness?

The lighter fruit, coupled with the cinnamon, makes you think that the wine is sweet. Also, the fact that the wine is not as heavy as a big, bad red like a Cabernet Sauvignon might prompt you to assume that the wine is sweet.

The sweet/dry combo is one of the reasons I love this wine so much.

A Surprising Fact About Grenache

Wine Folly tells us that this grape “is responsible for some of the most delicious and expensive wine in the world.” In Châteauneuf-du-Pape, you can find bottles for $600. In Spain, there are two Spanish cult wines that sell for $300. And in Santa Barbara, you can find a bottle for $500.

Might This Grape Be Especially Good for Our Health?

National Geographic has been studying Blue Zones for many years. Blue Zones are where people live the longest and are healthiest: Okinawa, Japan; Sardinia, Italy; Nicoya, Costa Rica; Ikaria, Greece, and Loma Linda, California.

Well, it turns out the Grenache is drunk heavily in Sardinia. Might there be other things about Sardinia that cause people to live longer. Undoubtedly. But hey, I’ll follow their lead and step up my drinking of this wonderful wine.

Food Pairings

This wine goes perfectly with spiced and herb-heavy dishes, including roasted meats, vegetables, and a variety of ethnic foods.

WineShop At Home’s Grenache

We have a wonderful Grenache in our lineup right now that is actually from France. It’s under our Terroir Cellars label, where we often feature our out-of-country wines. The nose offers a mix of aromas and flavors, like strawberry, violet, blackberry, earthiness and chocolate. The mouth is round and pleasant. This wine is fruit-forward like a sweet wine, but it is bone dry. Its structure offers a hint of acidity, some toasted oak and tannins from the fruit.

I’d love to hear about your experiences with this grape and wine. Cheers!

As an independent wine consultant with WineShop At Home, I absolutely enjoy bringing a taste of the Napa wine country home to you one sip at a time. Whether you simply love to drink wine, seek a special personalized wine gift, or are in search of a new wine jobs opportunity as a wine consultant, feel free to contact me for a truly unique wine tasting experience!

Cheers, Betty Kaufman
WineShop At Home

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