Grenache Blanc is a Foundation
Grenache blanc, also known as white grenache, garnacha blanca, or garnatxa blanca, is one of the most widely planted white wine grapes on the planet. It is the white-skinned cousin of grenache noir, which many are familiar with in wines from Portugal, Spain, or France’s Rhone Valley.
Most of the world’s grenache blanc is cultivated in Spain, with France a distant second. Its rich palate and low acidity make it a popular blending wine, especially when used as a softener for more acidic grapes like roussanne, marsanne, viognier, or muscat. Grenache blanc is also used in naturally sweet fortified wines like vin doux naturels.
Because grenache is so hardy and drought-resistant, it does exceedingly well in places other grapes are challenged in, notably Spain and the southern Rhone Valley of France. That being said, the resulting wine is prone to oxidation, so it’s essential to keep it cool and protected from the sun in storage. This is also why varietal grenache blanc wines do not age remarkably well and are better used as a blending component.
What Does Grenache Blanc Taste Like?
White grenache is a workhorse grape, and as such, you’ll find it as the basis for many blended white wines in the Mediterranean. And while it’s better known for the simpler wines it makes, you’ll find top-quality grenache blanc in white Côtes-du-Rhone or Châteauneuf-du-Pape, where it’s often blended with viognier to add a juicy layer of stone fruit character.
On its own, grenache blanc is full-bodied, high in alcohol, and can be very similar in texture to barrel-fermented chardonnay. Flavors tend towards green plum and pear (sometimes poached pear), with aromas of honeysuckle and citrus zest. It will lean towards more tropical flavors in hotter climates, producing notes of ripe cantaloupe, honeydew melon, and dried pineapple.
On the back, you’ll often find an intriguing, exotic, spicy nuance, such as star anise, dill, nutmeg, cumin, or allspice.
What to Pair with Grenache Blanc
Grenache blanc is easy to pair with a wide variety of dishes. We can take a cue from Spanish cuisine, which is highly variable and includes dishes like cured ham, olives, oily fish (like sardines and mackerel), tuna in oil, salt cod, paella, and ceviche.
Other excellent pairings include miso soup, ramen, Pho, roasted pork, crab cakes, curried chicken salad with raisins and apples, chicken a l’orange, stuffed zucchini flowers, corn on the cob, white bean chili con carne, escargots, or grilled vegetables with extra virgin olive oil.