Grenache wines can usually range from single varietal grape driven wines to wines that are blended with a variety of other grapes. This gives us a lot of styles to choose from, such as an easy-drinking Côtes du Rhône with lots of raspberry flavours to a full-bodied and powerful Châteauneuf du Pape, which is a Grenache driven wine, with up to thirteen other grapes blended in. Grenache on its own doesn’t have a definitive style, but generally, you’re going to get a full-bodied and soft wine (meaning it’s not overly tannic) that is low in acidity. I like to think of it as a ‘winter warmer’, making it a perfect wine with foods you’d eat as Autumn has set, and the brink of the first snowfall is on the horizon.
These warm wines are perfect for hearty dishes, such as slow-cooked stews, or a roast of lamb or pork. Baked beans and Grenache is another favourite combination.
You say Grenache, Spain Says Garnacha
Garnacha, which is what Grenache is called in Spain, is a fruity and light wine perfect for barbecued fare such as a grilled lamb burger. The smokey nature of barbecued food makes this wine come alive.
A medium-bodied Garnacha is also fantastic with Caprese salad with a Balsamic Vinaigrette. Here the rich and bold flavours that the balsamic draws out of the Caprese jive perfectly with the acidity and supple tannin found in Garnacha. Bursting with dark cherry and cranberry flavours, Garnacha ensures the salad remains tasting bright and fresh.
Côtes du Rhône and Food Pairings
Côtes du Rhône is a widely produced wine in the Rhône valley. It’s best described as a medium-bodied red, with varying elements of blackberry, raspberry, spice, and smoke. We’ll go deeper into this exceptional wine in the future, but for now, know that this is a blended red of many different types of grapes including Grenache, Syrah, Cinsault, Carignane, Counoise and Mourvèdre.
With an easy-drinking Côtes du Rhône, classic British comfort food such as bangers and mash, Shepherd’s pie or steak and kidney pie. Similarly, an easy drinking Grenache styled wine, or a Côtes du Rhône, is also perfect with baked macaroni and cheese dishes, vegetable casseroles (or even tuna casserole if the wine is light on tannin) or bean dishes and poultry.
Charm the table: A Côtes du Rhône Villages is subject to stricter growing laws.
Châteauneuf du Pape and Food Pairings
Classic Châteauneuf du Pape flavours you’ll find are herbs, licorice, berries, tar and minerals. Some of these wines are going to be easy drinking whilst young, and others will require a bit of ageing to subdue the tannin. Depending on the tannin in your wine, Châteauneuf du Pape is excellent with osso buco, prime rib, oxtail soup, cassoulet, stewed rabbit, and duck
Châteauneuf du Pape is another wine from Rhône, this time from the Southern Rhône. The wine can contain multiple grapes, however, you’re typically going to find a blend of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre. For the Grenache driven Châteauneuf du Pape the result is often a wine similar to a full-bodied and peppery Zinfandel.
This style of wine goes perfect with any type of Mediterranean food such as rich veggie and robust been dishes, garlic, olive oil, and crusty bread. An easy drinking Châteauneuf du Pape is exceptional with Coq Au Vin. As a wine sommelier, I loved pairing Châteauneuf du Pape with Pasta Puttanesca as the herbal, tar and licorice notes complemented the garlic, caper and olives in the sauce, provided the wine was more acidic than tannin based.
Any sort of stew or grilled meat makes for an exceptional pair. If you want a perfect pair, try grilled lamb in a pepper sauce, and you will see what heaven can taste like. This wine is also great with game birds, Thanksgiving turkey, and caramelized root vegetables like carrots, parsnips and beets.
Charm the table: The English translation of Châteauneuf du Pape is “The New House of the Pope.”
Châteauneuf du Pape also has a coat of arms embossed into the glass of the bottle. This is the Papal Coat of Arms.
Never Pair Grenache With
For what not to pair, keep the Grenache far away from lighter and delicate dishes like steamed/raw vegetables, poached fish, or salads. Grenache is pretty high in alcohol, so these dishes would be torn apart. It’s not overly great with citrus flavours either, so if you like to squeeze lime or lemon on your food, Grenache is not going to make a great dinner pal.