Friday, 21 September 2018 is International Grenache Day! Here are 8 fast facts about Grenache for the keen explorer.
1. Standing On Its Own Feet
Grenache has proved itself in recent years as a wine that can stand on its own. For years it was used only as a “blending wine”, employed to help express the nuances of more popular varietals like Shiraz and Merlot. In South Africa specifically, there has been a movement towards exploring with cultivars that have traditionally been “behind the scenes”, and this has resulted in the reintroduction of Grenache as a single varietal to the market.
2. It’s Perfect For Easy Drinking
Grenache is an exceptionally easy drinking wine. The grapes used to make Grenache wines have very thin skins. The resulting wine has less tannin than other red wines, which means that you can serve it chilled!
3. It Covers Some Serious Ground
While Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon are the most popular wines in the world, Grenache is the most widely planted. This is due to huge, Grenache dedicated vineyards in Northern Spain, where it is a popular table wine.
4. Grenache As A Single Varietal Is Making A Comeback
Grenache wasn’t always just used in blends. Before the 1990s, it was a popular single varietal wine, sold across the world. A trend of more serious, full bodied red wines took over the market for a few years and Grenache was pushed to the back line, being limited to use in blends.
5. Sometimes, Red Comes First
Grenache is known as a light red wine. In a tasting line up it is sometimes recommended to taste Grenache wines before some white wines. Some fuller bodied white wines have been exposed to wood or left on its lees for extended periods of time, which means that they have more tannin than lighter red wines like Grenache. This is why sommeliers recommend tasting certain light red wines first, as to not overwhelm the palate with the tannin found in full bodied white wines first.
6. In The Vineyard
While Grenache vines bud relatively early, they require a longer growing season to ripen than most. It is known for being a hard core grape that can be grown just about anywhere, but it really thrives in warm, dry conditions. This makes it a pleasure to cultivate in warm climate regions like the Swartland, home of sought after South African Grenache wines.
7. It Can Do With Some Time
While most lighter red wines are intended to be enjoyed in its youth, Grenache can actually benefit from some aging. From some time in the bottle, more premium Grenache wines will take on a beautiful waxiness to the palate, and develop a more mature expression of its characteristic cherry, black fruit and cassis notes.
8. When To Celebrate
Enjoy Grenache slightly chilled during lunch on a warm summer’s day, or order a glass to pair with a hearty plate of Oxtail at a restaurant. If you love Grenache wines you are of course free to celebrate whenever you deem fit. If you REALLY love Grenache wines however, the best day to celebrate is on the third Friday of September, every year.