I often think of Grenache as an easy pleaser. If I’m on the way out the door to go to a party or need to pull that bottle for a friend who has asked for something that’s sure to impress, I almost always go with Grenache. Why? Because the majority of Grenache is fun to drink and easy to understand. Grenache is a late ripening grape that’s very high in sugar, which usually results in a high alcohol levels and a smooth mouth-feel. Yet, it’s also very low in tannin and acid. When you mix that all together, you get a wine that wouldn’t necessarily be the best bet for a grand tasting, but is a sure bet for a party, barbecue, housewarming or random gift for friends.
Of course, this is a broad generalization. You’ll often find Grenache blended with other varietals, such as Syrah, Carignan and Tempranillo. I certainly wouldn’t label Châteauneuf-du-Pape or Priorat as nothing more than a party wine, and yet many of them are being made primarily from Grenache. However, in the end, the majority of Grenache that you’ll find will be fun, unassuming and easy drinking.
The problem is what to pair with it. Low acid and tannin means that you need to steer clear of extremely rich foods, high alcohol tends to over-accentuate spicy foods. No problem. We can find a number of great dishes to pair with Grenache that will easily fit the bill.