Grenache (pronounced "gra-nosh") is a relatively unknown grape in the United States, but is responsible for some of the most famous red wines in the world. Grenache is best known in Spain, where in its humblest form produces intensely fruity wines with some good spice notes. It is also the primary grape in Chateauneuf-du-Pape, the famous red wines from France's Rhone Valley. Domestic producers have recently achieved some good results with Grenache, which is very exciting.
In a 2004 tasting of Grenache with a panel of restaurant wine people, New York Times wine writer Eric Asimov says that "grenache can be an exciting, surprising wine, full of fruit, spice and nut flavors", especially when blended with other grapes such as Syrah and Mourvedre. He laments, however, that often wines that are composed of just Grenache are unbalanced and poorly made.
I'm happy to report that a lot has changed since 2004! We at Winestyr have had the privalege of tasting a number of Grenache's produced by the wineries we work with. Two wines that stand out as being both delicious and representive of the grape are this Grenache from Anaba and this one from Andis. Both have great fruit, but also have some additional complexity in the form of acid, earth, and spice. Pick one up to get an idea of what Grenache is really about.
As tends to be the case with most wines traditionally produced in old-world regions like Spain and France, Grenache is a great food wine. In terms of general pairing advice, think of Grenache as a "kicked up" Pinor Noir, says Chicago's own Alpana Singh. It's a great general red wine for barbecue dishes, and goes especially well with grilled lamb and red meat off the grill or roasted.