Getting to Know Grenache
Grenache is one of the wine world’s great chameleons. Not only does it successfully change character from place to place, but it seems to change from season to season, making it a perfect wine for spring and fall.
It might seem like a bit of a stretch, but let me explain. Grenache is produced around the world and in almost every region there are both wines that are big, beefy, and chunky and wines that are light, fragrant, and fresh, all based on grenache.
This could pose a problem for these wines, just look at the confusion over styles of riesling or syrah for example, but for some reason the wine buying public is quite tolerant of grenache’s identity crisis. Perhaps because the wines tend to retain a certain grenache-iness, that fresh happy core of fruit that is almost always pairing with enticing aromatics.
There is something about grenache that transcends the regional differences one encounters when tasting through a broad selection of these wines. It’s tough to put your finger on it, but ultimately I think it boils down to the aforementioned grenachiness which also takes advantage of the textural propensities of grenache. Most grenache-based wines are often somewhat low in acid with very supple tannins, making them easy to drink.
So grenachiness and drinkability might be the keys to grenache’s success, and certainly they can’t hurt. Just look at what has happened over the past several years: a virtual explosion of grenache-based wines from places where we expect to find them, like France and Spain, as well places not so unexpected, like Australia and California.