Wine holidays are a thing, and the third Friday of September has been declared International Grenache Day. If you’re not experienced with Grenache from Washington State, don’t worry. We’ve got the basics about this variety, fun suggestions on how to throw a casual Grenache Day party, food pairing tips, and suggested wines to try.

How did Grenache Day come to be? According to the Grenache Association:
It’s one of the most widely planted red grape in the world and responsible for the velvety, voluptuous mouthfeel that people love in wine; but it rarely gets the credit it deserves because it’s often used in blends. It’s time to change all that!

Known as Garnacha in Spain, Grenache goes by many names depending on where it’s grown. One thing remains the same, the variety loves warm climates. Due to its affinity for warmer climates the resulting wine can be a little high in alcohol.

In Washington, Grenache is in great demand but currently has limited supply. This makes it one of the most expensive wine grapes in the state. Growing the variety has its challenges plus it takes time for a vine to bear quality fruit after it is planted. So don’t expect a lot of Grenache bottlings at the local wineries any time soon.

What Does Grenache Taste Like?

Grenache from other countries is known for its remarkable fruitiness, and often for pepper notes. My personal experience with the Grenache I’ve tasted from Washington is that it’s more fruit forward than offerings from old world regions and yes, it’s still plenty tasty!

For the sake of comparison, it’s got more oomph than Pinot Noir yet fewer tannins than Cabernet Sauvignon. For those who are looking for that “just right” something in between, Grenache may very well be the wine for you!

Throw a Grenache Party

If you want to really explore different expressions of Grenache, why not invite some friends over to celebrate Grenache Day together? Ask each participant to bring a bottle from a different region in order to taste and compare how the variety expresses the various terroirs. For a full-fledged wine geek experience, taste the wines blind. This can easily be done by brown bagging the bottles and numbering them. In either case, ask everyone to make a note of their favorite, and tally up the votes at the end of the evening for a ceremonial reveal.

Alternatively, plan what we call a “pair and share” event where each person brings a different wine along with an accompanying dish. Since Grenache likely originated in Spain, a tapas party would be a great theme!

Pairing Grenache with Food

Whether you prefer red, white, or rosé there is a Grenache to try and some great dishes to pair with the wine.

Pairings for Grenache Blanc
Think light seafood or salads for this white grape.

Garlic Shrimp, or as they say in Spain Gambas al Ajillo, are easy to prepare and may be served as an appetizer or even a main course.

In keeping with the Spanish theme, how about an Easy Seafood Paella Recipe such as the one from The Mediterranean Dish.

Pairings for Rosé
Dishes with tomatoes, fried foods, and a number of chicken dishes can play well with rosé of Grenache.

Try a healthier spin on Patatas Bravas from the Wanderlust Kitchen because who doesn’t love potatoes?

Another Spanish dish is Pan con Tomate (that’s bread with tomato). After all, we need to make the most of tomato season while we can! The recipe from The FoodOlic includes a video as well as a little history on the dish.

Vegetarians can delight in the Zucchini Chickpea Tagine recipe from Herbivoracious as a great option for an entrée.

For dinner parties, a dish like Arroz con Pollo makes it easy to feed a group. David Lebovitz, whose site is a treasure trove of recipes and stories, has adapted a recipe from Joanne Weir’s book, Kitchen Gypsy.

Pairings for Red Grenache (aka Grenache Noir)
This fun wine can complement everything from a barbecued burger to turkey dinner. Explore pairings such as Moroccan tagines, chicken, pasta, pizza, and sausage.

Albondigas – Spanish Meatballs – from Talking Tapas would make great party food.

For a hearty meal Joanne Weir (love her!) offers a recipe for Spanish Lamb Stew.

Recommended Grenache

Here are just a few examples of Washington State Grenache I’ve had the pleasure of tasting. As of this writing, they are either currently available from the winery or have been spotted in a Seattle store. Sadly, as summer is winding down, if you wish to drink a Washington rosé crafted from Grenache you had better already have it in hand!

White Wine

Eternal Perspective Grenache Blanc $30

Rôtie Cellars Grenache Blanc $32

Red Wine

Idilico Garnacha – ~ $20
Available to Pomum Cellars Wine Club members.

2012 Latta Wines Grenache Upland Vineyard $40
It’s worth noting that this wine was awarded 94 points and was named one of the Top 100 Wines in the World by Wine Enthusiast.

Block Wines Grenache Golden Block Boushey Vineyard $39.99
Available via Full Pull Wines – if you’re not on their email list, you should be.

Now, choose how you’d like to celebrate. Go purchase some Grenache or pull a bottle (or more) from the cellar. Invite your friends over. Prepare some food. Photograph it all, and share your experience on Instagram and Twitter using the hashtag #GrenacheDay. We can’t wait to see what you come up with!

Nancy Croisier is an enthusiastic advocate for exploring the world of wine. She holds the prestigious designation of Certified Specialist of Wine (CSW) from the Society of Wine Educators, and has graduated from the Northwest Wine Academy with expert training in wine and food pairing, as well as wine sales and marketing. She specializes in bringing wine brands and consumers together. Follow Nancy’s wine and food adventures on Twitter and Instagram:  @NancyFeasts.