Grenache is a red grape used widely in producing red wine throughout Spain and France, as well as in other parts of the world. It is somewhat sweet, and its primary use in wine is as a blending grape, rather than being used on its own. In Spain, Grenache is known as Garnacha, where it is the single-most planted grape in the country. There are two varieties, known as Garnacha Tinta and Garnacha Blanca, with the red variety Tinta being by far the more popular.
Spain produces an incredible amount of wine – behind only Italy and France – and has more of its land growing vines than any other country on earth. The most popular style of Spanish wine we see as an import in the rest of the world is the Rioja wine, which combines the Grenache grape with a number of other grapes, particularly the variety known as Tempranillo. In recent years, the Spanish wine industry has undergone something of a reform, with wine makers experimenting with bigger, bolder wines and a slew of new grapes, including Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon. In France, Grenache is one of the two major grape varieties – alongside Syrah – used in red Rhone Valley wines. The most famous region to use a great deal of Grenache grape is the Chateauneuf-du-Pape, though a number of other areas in the southern Rhone also use this grape extensively.
Grenache is a light red in color, with a great deal of alcohol. It has a considerable amount of fruit in it, and many people compare it favorably with Pinot Noir – albeit with dashes of flavors like thyme and sage. One of the main uses of the Grenache grape is as an ingredient in the popular rosé wines of the Lirac and Tavel regions of France. These wines are very powerful for a rosé, with high alcohol and a richness of character not often seen in paler wines. Indeed, often a good Tavel has as much body as a more powerful red wine.
In recent years, Grenache has seen an increase in popularity in both California and Australian wines. In these countries, Grenache is still often blended with other wines, such as Syrah or Shiraz, to help give it a fuller sense of character. Some Californian rosé wines also make use of Grenache, though in general they contain much less of the herbiness that make their French counterparts so popular.