Wine Guide

Essential Guide to Grenache Wine

Grenache Wine Guide

Would it surprise you to know that Grenache is responsible for some of the most delicious and expensive wine in the world? From exalted regions like Châteauneuf-du-Pape to cult California wines, Grenache is just as important in the wine world as Cabernet Sauvignon.

Grenache Red Wine Profile

MAJOR REGIONS: About 456,000 acres worldwide

  • France (~250,000 acres)  Rhône, Châteauneuf-du-Pape
  • Spain (~170,000 acres)  Priorat, Calatayud
  • Italy (~55,300 acres)  Sardinia, Sicily, Calabria
  • United States (~10,000 acres)  California, Washington
  • Australia (~8,000 acres)  South Australia

Grenache Characteristics

FRUIT: Strawberry, Black Cherry, Raspberry
OTHER: Anise, Tobacco, Citrus Rind, Cinnamon
OAK: Yes. Usually Medium Oak Aging
TANNIN: Medium
ABV: Medium-plus alcohol (13.5-16%)
COMMON SYNONYMS: Cannonau (Italy), Garnacha (Spain), Garnatxa (Spain), Grenache Noir, Alicante (Rare)

What does Grenache Taste Like?

The unmistakable candied fruit roll-up and cinnamon flavor is what gives Grenache away to expert blind tasters. It has a medium-bodied taste due to its higher alcohol, but has a deceptively lighter color and is semi-translucent. Depending on where it’s grown, Grenache often has subtle aromas of orange rinds and ruby-red grapefruit. When Grenache is grown in Old World regions such as Côtes du Rhône and Sardinia, it can have herbal notes of dried oregano and tobacco.

3 Very Different Tasting Grenache-Based Wines


The Calatayud is a warmer growing region in Northern Spain where late-ripening Garnacha grapes can get very high sugar levels. The ripe grapes usually ferment to alcohol levels above 15%, which adds both body and spice. Garnacha from this area often smell slightly of ruby-red grapefruit with lots of cherry and licorice flavor.


The Southern Rhône is known for Grenache-based wines. The region’s wine varies year-to-year based on vintage variation. Along with cherry fruit expect more smoky herbal notes including oregano, lavender, and tobacco. The Rhône is a slightly cooler region often making wines with more finesse and slightly less alcohol.


American Grenache is both fruit-forward and aromatic with crisp acidity. Instead of herbal aromas like many Old World Grenache, the American versions smell more like licorice and flowers. American Grenache is often blended with a touch of Syrah to add tannin and smooth out the flavor.

The spice in Grenache makes it a perfect pairing with spiced and herb-heavy dishes including roasted meats, vegetables, and a variety of ethnic foods. Alcohol is a solvent to capsaicin, which is the heat unit in spicy foods. A lighter-alcohol Grenache served slightly chilled can help reduce the burn of spicy food.
The official #GrenacheDay occurs annually on the 3rd Friday of September. It was started by the Grenache Symposium in 2010.

First Published On: Wine Folly