The 6 Best Grenache Wine Pairings
If you missed it this year, you won’t want to miss it again. Every year on September 17th, wine lovers worldwide celebrate International Grenache/Garnacha Day.
This Mediterranean red wine is one of the boldest, most intense varietals you can find, yet many don’t even know its name.
We’re here to change that.
Let’s learn everything there is to know about this mysterious red varietal and dive into our 6 favorite Grenache food pairings.
The Flavors Of Grenache
This Mediterranean red wine is generally quite full-bodied and silky, with low levels of natural acidity. Some Grenache blends are made with Syrah or Mourvédre giving them an extra bold and intense profile.
Grenache is considered one of the top seasonal wines. With its warm, toasty flavors, this Mediterranean red often surges in popularity just as autumn and winter make their way around the bend.
The Different Types Of Grenache
Côtes du Rhône Blends
Hailing from the historical region in France, southern Rhône blends add a splash of Syrah, Mourvèdre, and Cinsault to the Grenache mix.
Cinsault offers vibrancy and fragrant aromas, while Syrah gives the blend structure and intensity. Mourvèdre imparts a smoky, almost chipotle flavor to add to Grenache’s natural rustic profile.
Perhaps the most historical form of Grenache, Spanish Garnacha, comprises a Grenache and Tempranillo blend. Grenache brings the spice, while Tempranillo offers its signature fruit-forward flavor.
Many enthusiasts find Spanish Garnacha to be extra bold and spicy compared to other forms of Garnacha.
New World Grenache
Originating from Australia and the United States west coast, New World Grenache closely resembles Rhône blends with significant incorporation of Syrah and Mourvèdre.
Critics often find these blends are richer and fuller with fewer herbaceous notes compared to their French cousins.
Our 6 Favorite Grenache Wine Pairings
Due to its high alcohol content and low acidity, Grenache is a tricky red to matchmake. If you’re not careful, this red can easily dominate and overwhelm lighter dishes, though it doesn’t have the robust tannin structure of a classic Cabernet Sauvignon.
Many love a juicy tomato pizza with a chilled glass of fruity Grenache; others prefer pork or gamey meats like venison and rabbit. There’s no end to the number of delicious Grenache food pairings you can find, so let’s cover a few!
Meaty Stews and Goulash
One of the most traditional pairings for Grenache is a meaty stew or goulash. Popular in Grenache’s Mediterranean home regions, slow-cooked pork or lamb shoulder melts into Grenache’s natural flavor profile.
If you’re seeking an even more powerful complement, infuse your stew with spice like paprika and reach for a full-bodied Grenache like many of those originating from the New World.
Classic Indian Dishes
Bold loves bold — it’s one of the first lessons you’ll learn in any food pairing foundations course, and the adage certainly applies here.
Grenache's intense, fruit-forward nature mingles beautifully with dishes on the slightly spicier side, including many dishes found in Indian cuisine.
Fall-off-the-bone tandoori chicken is a no-brainer for this Mediterranean red. At the same time, a roasted cauliflower curry can accentuate the rustic notes hidden within an autumnal glass of Grenache. Even if you opt for a creamier dish like butter chicken, you’ll find that Grenache can elevate nearly any dish on an Indian menu.
Word of warning — Grenache’s low alcohol content does mean it struggles to match extra-spicy dishes. Take a quick taste of the dish. If it leaves your mouth on fire, it might just scare away Grenache’s subtler flavors.
If your palate’s up for it, Grenache makes a delightful pairing with many different kinds of game meat, like juicy venison or rabbit.
Richer meats pair best with bolder, fruitier Spanish Garnacha, while more even-keeled meats go hand-in-hand with a Rhône blend. If you have an aged Grenache on hand, even better. Those tannins will have softened into silk, making them a complementary pairing for rich, fatty game meats fresh off the grill.
Grilled or Smoked Fish
While acidic, lighter seafood fare doesn’t stand much of a chance against the loud flavors of Grenache, grilled or smoked fish can certainly hold its own with this powerful red.
Think fattier fish like salmon or sea bass, as these will be able to absorb much more of that buttery flavor that dances so well with the fat-cutting properties of a bold red.
If you’ve got the right equipment, you might even opt for an oak or applewood char to match the autumnal flavors of a top Grenache.
Grilled or Sauteéd Vegetables
Like fish, raw or subtle-tasting vegetable dishes might taste bland and muted when paired with a Grenache.
However, if you fire up the grill and toss on slices of zucchini and eggplant along with a splash of olive oil, you’ll find the veggies have just enough flavor and complexity to hold up to Grenache.
Youthful and zesty vintages of Grenache should be at the top of your list if you’re seeking a pairing for your carefully selected charcuterie board.
An easy-drinking wine bottle in the last two or three years is often brimming with bright, fruity flavor. This makes them a perfect pairing for bold cheeses like aged gruyere or smoked gouda.
Food Pairings To Avoid With Grenache
As Grenache is high in alcohol levels, you should steer clear of white fish or lighter vegetable dishes like a bell pepper salad. This red can also overwhelm cuisines, like sushi or simple noodle dishes from Mongolia or China, on the subtler side of the spectrum.
Take A Sip Of Glorious Grenache Red Wine
With its unconventional combination of silky tannins, high alcohol, and low acidity, Grenache is one of the most difficult red wines to pair naturally.
That’s exactly why finding the perfect Grenache pairing is so rewarding.
With the wide array of blends and regional styles on offer with Grenache, you’ll be able to find a tantalizing pairing for your taste buds. That is, as long as you’re prepared for experimentation with all types of world cuisine.
Don’t worry; we think you can handle it.
While waiting for your order to arrive, read through our blog to discover our other ultimate red wine pairing guides, like our comprehensive marsala wine guide and the difference between Merlot and Pinot Noir.