Grenache is that overlooked friend you always under appreciate. You know the one: You always forget about them until you bump into them at a party, but when you do, you have a great time. But today, overlook that friend no more, because it’s International Grenache Day.
Whether you drink wines in which Grenache plays a supporting role, or you purposely seek out Grenache-based wine, you need to know more about it. It’s incredibly diverse, widespread and has a reputation for making every other grape around it perform better. Grab a glass, because after reading up on these facts, you’re going to want to make a toast.
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Grenache is a grape of many names
Grenache and Garnacha are the same thing. Calling the same thing by two different names can be confusing (Syrah versus Shiraz, anyone?), but there’s a clear regional difference here. Grenache is the name in France, Garnacha is the name in Spain. Then there are all of the one-offs, one of which is known as Hairy Grenache.
There’s more land dedicated to Grenache than any other grape
Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay are both grown just about everywhere, but Grenache holds down the most territory by sheer amount of land. That’s mostly thanks to huge vineyards in northern Spain, where Garnacha is a classic table wine.
Grenache is the Lil Twist of wine — famous by association
Grenache is blended into some of the most expensive wines around: those in the Châteauneuf-du-Pape AOC. Sure, you probably don’t know it’s in there, just like you probably don’t know it’s Lil Twist guesting on songs and hovering in Justin Bieber pictures. But it’s there. It’s definitely there.
Grenache has more range than Mariah Carey
Grenache (or Garnacha) is generally known for its affordability. It’s a high-yield grape, after all. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t know how to post up the high prices all around the world. On the central coast of California, the cult Grenache wine Sine Qua Non can retail for between $300 and $2,000.
It has Spanish roots
Although Grenache (and its French pronunciation) have become the most popular, the grape actually started out as Garnacha. Garnacha originated in Aragon, a region in northern Spain. It’s in Spain where you can still find some of the best, most affordable Garnacha. In Cariñena, old-vine Garnacha retails for around $20.
Don’t ignore the small countries
France and Spain may be Nos. 1 and 2 in terms of Garnacha production, but the grape is relatively resilient and loved the world over. The fourth-largest growing region is Algeria, and the sixth- largest is Tunisia.
It’s got a long (recorded) history
The earliest mention of Garnacha apparently appeared all the way back in 1513 in a text by Gabriel Alonso de Herrera called Agricultura general. Back then it was known as Aragones — a synonym still used today — that described a “black-berried variety from Madrid,” according to Jancis Robinson and Julia Harding’s excellent book, Wine Grapes: A Complete Guide to 1,368 Vine Varieties, Including Their Origins and Flavours.