Monday, May 14, 2007

Grenache and the Grill

Summer reds can be something of a challenge. The rich, tannic wines that you loved in February can be overpowering and taste bitter in the heat of summer. Of course, most folks like Zinfandel if they are slathering lots of spicy, tomatoey BBQ sauce onto their meats and veggies. But what if you are doing something more simple on the grill--like some lemon-herb chicken, some chicken apple sausages, or some lamb kebabs with veggies?

What you might prefer when you fire up the grill for these summer foods is a Grenache. The Grenache varietal is often used as a blending grape because its sweet, almost floral, blackberry fruit profile brings some much needed softness to more tannic grapes. On its own, however, the perfumed aromas and round fruit flavors are appealing in their own right, and never more so when prepared with some smoky, grilled food.

A good example of an affordable wine with very good QPR made exclusively with Grenache grapes is the NV Saint-Cosme Vin de Table Français Little James' Basket Press ($14.99, Mission Wines; available for $10-$12 from other merchants). Made from 100% Grenache grapes from the Rhone and the Languedoc-Roussillon region, it was inky purple in color, and had aromas of licorice and blackberry that were echoed in the flavors once this wine was poured and sipped. A dry, almost dusty and mineral-inflected finish added notes of herbs and even more licorice. Made by Louis Barruol of Chateau de St Cosme fame, this wine is not fined or filtered so expect a bit of sediment even with this young wine. This wine is also a good reminder that we don't have to be afraid of all non-vintage reds. Here the grapes were selected from several vintages in order to make a wine that was neither too fleshy, nor too dusty. I would recommend serving this and other 100% Grenache wines at cellar temperature, or even slightly below, for a refreshing summer sipper.

What's your favorite summer red? Leave a comment and let us know.

7 comments:

John said...

Spain is a great source of lighter, easy-drinking grenache (garnacha). There are also some excellent Spanish tempranillo/garnacha blends in that style. But, my all-time favorite lighter red would have to be Beaujolais.

domaine547 said...

There's so much out there in all different price ranges. Personal fave at the moment and our store pic is the Piccolo Rosso Russian River Valley Pinot Noir, all stainless steel, no oak. Yes, we're a store...and yes, we sell this. So we're biased like all wine purveyors (AND wine drinkers, an opinionated bunch). But this was a delight to find and remains a delight to drink. Very light and crisp for a red.

Dr. Debs said...

Hi John. The blends of grenache and tempranillo would be great wines to accompany food on the grill. And yes, the Beaujolais are terrific too. Sometimes, though, I find they don't stand up as well to grilled food--except grilled tuna. Grilled tuna and beaujolais has to be one of my all-time favorite pairings.

And welcome to Domaine 547! Aren't you folks in Burgundy or somewhere really cool? First, let me say it's great to hear this recommendation for you, and folks should know this is a $17.99 pinot. Definitely good value in pinot. I've never had a pinot done in stainless so I may have to check it out. For readers who haven't been over to Domaine 547 it's a great new retail/wine 2.0 community. Click on over and see.

el jefe said...

hi Deb - right on! Grenache, and Grenache blends, are my favorite wines for grilling, smoking, and BBQ. On a hot day I like to chill them down a bit more and allow them to warm in the glass - I just leave the bottle laying on the ice.

Dr. Debs said...

Hi, Jeff! The grenaches hold up well with a little bit of chill on them, I find. They can be just as refreshing and versatile as the beaujolais. I'm developing quite a thing for them, and they're starting to replace syrah when I just need a good, easy red.

Ryan Opaz said...

Grenache what a diverse and delicious grape from Rose's to deep inky reds. The best part about grilling with them is that no matter what you serve you can probably find a Grenache that will go with the food. Seriously, I'm getting hungry just thinking about it! Thanks for the nice write up!

Dr. Debs said...

Thanks for stopping by, Ryan. Grenache is a new favorite of mine, and I will have to apply myself to finding some Spanish versions. This wine was just named the Los Angeles Times Wine of the Week. For once I'm ahead of the news cycle--but it's nice to know others share my high opinion of it.