Grenache vines are one of the toughest, most-widely planted in the world. Originally from Spain, the grape variety first made its way into Southern France and then into the southern Rhone region, now its second home. Grenache grapes were underrated for many years, but today, winemakers worldwide recognize its versatility for making fine wine, not only from a single varietal, but also with other grape varieties to obtain successful blends.

Grenache has become so popular, there’s even a Grenache International Day, a day in mid- September, when wine lovers the world over meet to celebrate Grenache wine.

It’s easy to see why Grenache vineyards are popular in arid regions such as California, South Australia, Spain, and France. Not only are the vines tenacious, strong and adaptable, but they thrive remarkably well in hot, dry, harsh conditions. Winemakers also appreciate the vine's resistance to wind and drought as in the Languedoc-Roussillon region where the summers are hot, accompanied very often with the incredibly fierce mistral wind.This is where Grenache Noir (Black Grenache), Grenache Blanc (White Grenache) and Grenache Gris (Grey Grenache) grow in abundance; this is home to all three Grenache varietals. Viticulturists prefer to keep the yields low so as to maintain the best quality. (Read on in "Roussillon: Home to Good Red and White Wine.")

Grenache Noir (Black Grenache)

The Grenache Trio: Grenache Blanc, Grenache Noir and Grenache Gris

France is the leading producer of Grenache Noir grapes, often referred to as Red Grenache or just Grenache.The most well-known of the three Grenache grapes, Grenache Noir grapes are low in tannin and high in sugar, both valid reasons for why wine producers use it for blending red and rosé wines. Often the main component, Grenache is regularly blended with Syrah, Mourvèdre and Carignan varieties which producers say add body and fruitiness without the extra tannin to the blended wine.

The Grenache Association describes a full bodied red blend as "spicy with hints of potpourri, herbes de Provence, and cloves."

(Image Courtesy of the Grenache Association | Credit: Guenhaël Kessler)

Food Pairings for a Robust Grenache Noir

The Grenache Association says this variety is served best with:

  • Grilled foods like thick steaks and mushrooms
  • Spicy food that include beef, shellfish, pastas and sauces
  • Flavorful foods, specifically savory foods with deep sauces like braised pork
  • Slow-cooked Daubes
  • Boeuf Bourguignon
  • Shoulder of lamb and braised lamb chops with potatoes
  • Game meats including venison, duck and elk.

Grenache Blanc (White Grenache)

The Grenache Trio: Grenache Blanc, Grenache Noir and Grenache GrisGrenache Blanc vines, a mutation of Grenache Noir, produces medium-sized, light-skinned grapes with high alcohol and low acidity.

Although some producers make wines from 100% Grenache Blanc grapes, White Grenache plays a very significant role in the blending of both red and white wine in Rhone valley, France; notably with the white wines of Châteauneuf-du-Pape and Cotes-du-Rhône.

It’s best to consume Grenache Blanc young, as it has a tendency to oxidize, a drawback that prompts producers to blend with higher acid varieties such as Roussanne.

(Image Courtesy of the Grenache Association | Credit: Guenhaël Kessler)

Food Pairings for Grenache Blanc

White Grenache goes well with light foods like:

  • Summer truffles
  • Salads
  • White fish, especially with lemon and for alfresco dining
  • Light shellfish dinners like steamed lobster, shrimp in white sauces and seared scallops

Grenache Gris (Grey Grenache)

The Grenache Trio: Grenache Blanc, Grenache Noir and Grenache GrisGrey Grenache is a third variety of the Grenache family, which is mostly used in blending to make sweet white wine and Rosé wine. Although it is also resistant to harsh weather conditions like the other two varieties, you don’t come across Grenache Gris easily, it is the least talked about of three varieties.

In Spain, its country of origin, it is known as Garnacha Roja or Garnacha Dorada.

In the Roussillon region, Vignerons de Tautavel Vingrau is a small wine cooperative incorporating two villages Tautavel and Vingrau. This area features rugged, windy terroir comprised of limestone and clay soil, perfect terrain for Grenache vines. Here, small growers cultivate grapes on their stony hillsides to make 100% Grey Grenache wine. (Learn more in "How Terroir Affects Wine.") (Image Courtesy of the Grenache Association | Credit: Guenhaël Kessler)

This is a different kind of wine made from obscure grapes: nevertheless, it carries the prestigious Indication Géographique Protégée (IGP) Côtes Catalanes label.

Food Parings for Grenache Gris

Grey Grenache is delicious withseafood, shellfish or with chicken dishes such as Coq au vin, grilled white fish and char- grilled scallops.

Diverse, adaptable Grenache grapes offer great opportunities for winemakers. And as wine lovers explore the quality of wine, Grenache can only continue to seduce.