Tasting Spain and France on International Grenache Day

So you know how there’s always a “national something day” trending on social media? It’s national egg day, dog day, or whatever the heck else day. Well there are also various national and international wine days. And while most of these days have no true significance, I always think it’s fun to try to participate in the spirt of the day. If nothing else, it gives me a reason to step out of my comfort zone and try a wine that I don’t usually drink. Incidentally, I remember a couple of months ago when it was National Lobster Day and telling my husband how we should put a couple of lobsters on the grill. I got the side eye for sure.

But today is International Grenache Day and I made sure to do my part and celebrate. First I sacrificed and went wine shopping during my lunch break, and then I made sure I planned a great dinner to highlight the deliciousness of this neglected grape. The “holiday” is celebrated on the 3rd Friday of September each year. There’s even a Facebook page dedicated to it. What’s really neat is that various wine regions in countries around the world from Barossa in Australia, to Aragón in Spain (where the grape is believed to have originated), to the southern Rhone in France, and on and on celebrate the day. Very cool that so many are having Grenache, Garnacha, Cannonau, Alicant Blau, Aragones or whatever you want to call it depending on where you are in the world.

Grenache is one of the most widely planted grapes in the world. Some of the more prominent places where it’s grown include the southern Rhone area in France, particularly Châteauneuf du Pape (yes it’s a mouthful), the Priorat region of Catalonia, the Barossa region in Australia, Sardinia in Italy, Aragón in Spain, the Central Coast in California, and Yakima Valley in Washington State. But it doesn’t stop there as Grenache is also grown and produced in Israel, Morocco, Greece and more recently Mexico, Argentina, and South Africa. So many travel possibilities…

While widely planted, Grenache is one of those wines that I don’t typically find unblended. The few times that I’ve had it unblended or as the predominant grape in a wine, I was at some random winery. More often than not, it’s blended with other wines. It’s the dominant varietal in the southern Rhone’s Châteauneuf du Pape and the Australians typically make a GSM – Grenache Syrah/Shiraz Mouvedre – blend. Grenache tends to be soft, less tannic (think of big bold Syrah or Cabernet Sauvignon) and less acidic than other reds, very fruit forward, and tends to be high alcohol (due to how it ripens – but I won’t go all geek on ya). When used as a blending wine, the Grenache adds fruitiness and can balance out the big tannins in the other grapes that it’s blended with. In my opinion, this makes it a very approachable wine for beginning wine drinkers or even when you just want something easy to drink.

So for my own celebration I opened two different bottles. I really wanted one of them to be a “New World” Grenache from the likes of Washington State or California, but three stores netted me zero, zilch. Well, I did see it in a blend but couldn’t find one with more than sixty percent Grenache and I certainly wanted it to be a bit more than that. One store that did have a bottle that consisted of 96% Grenache was sold out. Oh well. So I opened a Garnacha from Spain’s Aragón region of Carinena. After all, this is where the grape is thought to have originated so a perfect choice for the day. The second one I opened was of course a Châteauneuf du Pape from France. I tend to be a fan.


The Spanish wine was around ten bucks while I paid fifty for the French wine. So it was a bit of a price difference. Which did I like more? Well, it depends…And about that fabulous dinner? It’s Friday, I was tired, and my daughter had a swim lesson. So we ordered pizza. And that was good too.

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