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Photo: Stolpman Vineyards

National Grenache Day

Garnacha, Grenache, Cannonau — any way you name it, this grape is delicious! Grenache is its most common name, used across many grape growing regions. Garnacha is its Spanish moniker, and Cannonau is the local name for the grape in Sardinia, where it is one of the most successful grapes.

As an educator, I have always spoken of Grenache as The Gateway Grape. Why? Because it’s just a step up from Pinot Noir in terms of weight, but it’s not necessarily in the same category as Tempranillo, Syrah or Malbec.

Grenache toes the line of medium weighted grapes. Let’s call it “light bodied plus plus.” Sometimes it’s juicy and lovely, like a jar of raspberry Smucker’s jam, and sometimes, it can run with notes of tobacco and baking spices. Mmm!

Not only is Grenache delicious, it’s also one of the world’s most pair-able grapes. While I like to use Pinot Noir as my “get out of jail free” grape (it seriously pairs to almost anything, in any setting), Grenache runs a hot second when it comes to compatibility.

Here are some of my favorite things to eat with Grenache:

Guacamole

Spicy latin-inspired food (dark red chile spice)

Fish! Like Ahi or Salmon

Sausages, brats and hot dogs (pssst, great for football season!)

Roasted pork (pulled pork sammies or even a good chop on the grill)

Pizza! Especially one with a good layer of fennel sausage (brings out the delicious bright notes of your pie)

What should you expect to pay when buying a yummy Grenache? Really, not much more than $20-$25.

Note: Grenache is one of the main grapes grown in the region of Chateauneuf-du-Pape, and that’s where this little bugger gets expensive! A fancy Beaucastel (one of the region’s most famous producers) could start at a good $70.

But in reality, there are many bottles of Grenache on the shelf, from California to Spain, that will get you just the juicy love you’re looking for, for under $20.  

Here are a few of my favorite bottles to get you started, starting with California:

Stolpman Vineyards: A family-owned operation, busting their butts to make some of Santa Barbara County’s best Syrahs. Stolpman also happens to make my favorite new world Grenaches. Get a hold of this baby! Not only is it the best damn pairing to red licorice, my favorite childhood treat, it is jam (I mean jam!) packed with fresh raspberry, strawberry and toasty caramel notes. Soooo perfect with that Tuesday night taco menu! Coast into some weekday pleasure for just under $20.

On to France! Look for producers in the Gigondas region. Often named the “baby Chateauneuf-du-Pape,” this region gives you twice the value that you’ll get from its big brother. Now, you won’t always find it as robust as its relative region, but it is juicy and delightful with those roasted pork treats.  From pork ribs, sausages and roasts, I’m all about Gigondas. Try this one:

E. Guigal’s Gigondas - While Guigal is known for its robust Syrahs in the north (Cote Rotie & Hermitage), I’m a lover of their Grenache-based Gigondas wines. From its exotic violet and black cherry notes to its highly gulp-able raspberry outer edges, call me a fan! And, for approximately $30-$35, I think it’s a steal. 

Of course, there’s always Spain! And, here’s a little secret…one of the best values for Garnacha in Spain lives in a box. Yes, I said it.  If you know me, I love to chat good box wine. Boxed wine lasts 6 weeks (in a cool, dark, dry storage area) and it gives you the equivalent of four bottles of wine! Use it for cooking, drink it on a rainy day, bring it to a party, or serve it at your football gatherings. This one especially:

Viña Borgia Garnacha - Pick up a box for around $20-$23 (again, that’s 4 bottles) and pair it to pizzas and pastas full of fennel sausage. Yum!

Finally, let’s head Down Under. While I don’t always gravitate to Australia (shame on me!) for my favorite wines, I do adore this next wine:

Flegenheimer Bros. ‘Paisant Red’ Grenache from McLaren Vale - I love the herbal side of this delicious little gem.  Not only does it gush strawberry and raspberry, but its peppery backbone and bright herbal notes keep this baby sitting up straight.  For $20, it’s a good one for that pan-seared hunk of Ahi tuna. Deeeelish!  

Now you’ve got no excuse—get out there and slurp something delicious on this National Grenache Day!

Clink, Clink!

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