by Christy Canterbury MW
Prepping for the Thanksgiving holiday? Got a Garnacha or three to cover your holiday needs? I hope so! It’s a long holiday weekend!
Garnacha (the grape’s birth name, if you will, as it hails from Spain) and Grenache (it’s adopted name in neighboring France, where its now more widely planted than in its home territory) offer a mightily diverse range of wine styles. They also offer a yoga-like flexibility in their price ranges, too. Whatever your holiday desires and budgets, there’s a great European Garnacha or Grenache ready to meet your holiday needs.
The style breadth of Garnacha/Grenache is due to its genetics. Garnacha is an old grape variety than has changed over time. Its earliest known mention in writing is from 1513. Clearly, it is a hardy vine and has performed well in the Darwinian nature of the world!
Garnacha/Grenache is one of two mainstream varieties with three color variants: red, grey and white. Pinot Noir is the other. These two grapes share a generally pale color and softer tannins. However, they differ in where they like to be grown. Pinot Noir likes cool climates and Garnacha likes warm ones. Garnacha has been called the Pinot Noir of the south, but we could also say that Pinot Noir is the Garnacha of the north!
The color variants of Garnacha/Grenache and its affinity to different soils and climates allows it to produce dry red, white and rosado/rosé wines as well as sparkling and sweet wines. Start off your festive Thanksgiving moments with a sparkler or a sweet wine. The vast majority of Garnacha/Grenache sparkling wines are focused on fresh fruit tones, so I would serve them in a flute rather than a glass. Besides, watching those streams of bubbles rise up a flute is far more festive! As for the “stickies”, they work nicely in a small white wine glass with a touch of chill in the winter. (And, yes, do serve sweet wines at the beginning of your Thanksgiving gathering! Fewer people will decline them then than after an indulgent meal, especially when served in small portions.) Of course, if you’re in the Southern Hemisphere and picking up a Garnacha/Grenache for the holidays, why not serve it as a refreshing cocktail “on the rocks”?
For the Thanksgiving table, scout out Garnacha/Grenache wines with more decisively fruit-driven tones. These will blend better with the many sweet notes of Thanksgiving staples like cranberry compote, sweet potatoes and yams, creamy pumpkin soups and the like. Save the more firmly mineral wines for the December holiday celebrations, from Hanukkah to Christmas. Besides, as turkey is usually the focal point of the Thanksgiving table, it tends to work best with whites and light- to mid-weight reds.
Naturally, there’s nothing like pumpkin pie with a mouthcoating vin doux naturel, or a fortified sweet wine. These are specialties of France’s Rousillon. It’s also an excellent “liquid dessert” when a chunk of pie seems too ambitious after a large meal. My favorite styles for Thanksgiving desserts tend to be “ambré”, whose caramel and nutty flavors tend to work well with almost any pie: pumpkin, apple, pecan or chocolate.
Add some Garnacha/Grenache to your holiday festivities. Every bottle is a unique experience. The cornucopia of Garnacha/Grenache’s wine styles is a perfect link to all of your holiday moments and will fit any absolutely any budget, regardless how small or large.