If you like to guess wine blindly, or if you are preparing for the sommelier exam, it is interesting to learn to recognize Grenache blindly, a red wine whose aroma is very intense and quite recognisable. Let's see its features and how to do it.
Grenache wine: how to recognize it
Before starting: we at Sommelier Wine Box adopt this rule to distinguish the grape variety from the wine of the same name: the grape in lower case, the wine in capital letters. Let's go!
Where does the grenache grape come from?
This grape is known as grenache noir in France and garnacha in Spain, while they belong to the same family (i.e. they are closely related vines at a genetic level), in Italy, the Sardinian cannonau , the Ligurian granaccia , the red tai in Veneto (Colli Berici ), the gamay of Trasimeno, the Alicante in Tuscany, where in the past the legendary “Bordò” was produced, a spurious name of peasant tradition, to indicate a vine that was not correctly recognized at the time and has now completely disappeared.
The grenache vine is probably native to Aragon , and from there it has spread throughout the world, especially in the territories bordering the Mediterranean, in Spain (in Priorat and Rioja); in Italy (Sardinia), throughout Southern France (Provence, Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Rhone Valley, Languedoc Roussillon) but also Tunisia and Algeria. And this is because it loves hot and dry climates.
It is also cultivated in California, Australia, South Africa, placing it as the seventh most cultivated grape variety in the world, with over 180,000 hectares of vineyards. Once upon a time, much more was produced, with a lower average quality.
What are the characteristics of the Grenache grape variety?
The Grenache grape is very versatile but has one characteristic: it gives very fragrant wines with a very concentrated color practically wherever it is grown.
How can you recognize Grenache wine?
We said that it is a vigorous vine, which expresses itself with marked colours.
But the key element of Grenache is the scent , which with a little practice is quite recognizable: it is intense and stands out on small red fruits and floral notes, of rose and violet. Spicy notes are added to this olfactory panorama over time.
In the mouth it is light, fragrant, with limited acidity and little tannin: in fact it tends to be an easy-drinking wine, with a finesse that makes it very contemporary.
How not to confuse Grenache with Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon?
How to pair Grenache?
If you uncork a young Grenache, it is best to pair white or red meats that are not too elaborate, or medium-aged cheeses.
If, however, the wine has undergone longer refinements and is more structured, it is better to go for red meat, preferably spiced to play with concordance, or mature cheeses.
And if you don't like the wines: we'll refund you!
References:This piece was written with tastings and readings behind it. The following were important readings: Il Spiro del vino by Luigi Moio; Ricardo Lòpez, The aroma of Grenache red wine: hierarchy and nature of its main odorants , in “Journal of the Science Food and Agriculture”, 1998; Ricardo Lòpez, Vicente Ferreira, Purificacion Hernández, Juan F Cacho, Identiﬁcation of impact odorants of young red wines made with Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Grenache grape varieties: a comparative study, in “Journal of the Science Food and Agriculture”, 1999.