Grenache,or Garnacha really as the grape originally came from Aragon in Spain, has played an important part in my drinking pleasure. Though some wine writers look down on this grape variety because it is mainly used in blends with other grapes and rarely in varietal form when it can lack colour and tannin (which makes it brilliant for roses), I've always been very partial to its spicey, fruity flavours. Its partly because I like a little bit of spice in my life, if you know what I mean, and now that Sid the Slug is warning us of the dangers of salt what is there left? - pepper of course! Black pepper, white pepper, ground pepper - they are all there in some form when Grenache is present in the grape mix as is loads of very accessible fruit.
This is a widely planted grape variety that just loves the heat. It plays a major role in Southern France, especially the Southern Rhone Valley where it is present in all kinds of delicious wines like Châteauneuf du Pape and the Côte du Rhône Village wines which I love. Hop over the border to Spain and there's Garnacha playing its part as an important constituent of Rioja, another great favourite of mine. In fact you'll find Garnacha popping up all over Spain, both in mixes and also in varietal form. In Ribera del Duero it is one of the grape varieties used in the fabled Vega Sicilia, one of Winston Churchill's favourite wines.
If you're playing your part in the increasing popularity of rose in this country, chances are that you will be drinking a wine made from Grenache, especially if it's from Spain or the South of France. And did you know that Grenache is the second most planted red grape variety in Australia? You won't see it on many Aussie wine labels but there are a number of interesting varietals being made there.
So whether you are sipping a glass of good old Côtes du Rhône, a well priced Rioja or savouring an amazing bottle of Château Rayas (one of the very top Châteauneuf du Pape that is made entirely from extremely old Grenache vines) you'll be tasting Grenache (or Garnacha) and getting that little bit of Mediterranean warmth and spice to help get you through the winter.