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Grenache Blanc: What To Know About This Overlooked White Wine
McKenzie Hagan |
When you hear the word "Grenache," chances are you first think of Grenache red wine (aka Grenache Noir). But there's another lesser-known vino that hails from the same grape — Grenache Blanc.
While this white wine might not be as celebrated as other whites like Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio, and Chardonnay, it's certainly worth sipping and getting to know a little better.
We're spilling the details about Grenache Blanc wine, including how it's made, where it comes from, how it compares to other vinos, and how to make the most of every glass — food pairings and ideal serving temperature included.
What Is Grenache Blanc?
Also known as white Grenache and Garnacha Blanca, Grenache Blanc — pronounced "gruh-nawsh blahn" — is a variety of white wine grape related to the red Grenache grape variety. In fact, it's thought to be a mutation of the dark-skinned Grenache Noir grape. The vines are quite hearty and fare well in dry, even drought-like conditions.
While the golden-hued Grenache Blanc varietal originated in northern Spain, it's mostly associated with France, particularly the Rhône Valley wine region and historic Languedoc-Roussillon region, which is now part of Occitanie.
Fun fact: White Grenache is permitted to be blended with all 13 indigenous Rhône varietals, including red and white grape varieties. So if you've ever enjoyed a red Grenache blend, there's a good chance you were also having some Grenache Blanc in the mix.
Along with Old World wine regions throughout Spain (notably Terra Alta, Priorat, and Aragon), France, Italy, and Croatia, Grenache Blanc grapes are widely grown in New World regions, including Australia, South Africa, and the United States, most notably Paso Robles and San Luis Obispo along California's Central Coast.
What Does Grenache Blanc Wine Taste Like?
For the most part, Grenache Blanc is a full-bodied dry wine marked by low acidity, high alcohol (it's in the 13-15% ABV range, which is higher than the U.S. standard of 12%), and notes of bright citrus that lead into an herbal and subtly mineral finish.
Tasting notes for Garnacha Blanca often include:
- Stone fruit, such as peach, apricot, and lychee
- Green fruits, including green apple, pear, honeydew, and lime
- Herbs and spices such as star anise, nutmeg, cumin, and dill
If the wine is oak-aged, other flavors might also include baked apple, brioche, cream, and lemon curd, similar to a plush Chardonnay.
How Is Grenache Blanc Wine Made?
As with every type of wine, Grenache Blanc is made with grapes that are picked and pressed before going through the fermentation process. As the juice ferments, the yeast in the liquid eats away at the sugar, converting it to alcohol.
If fermentation is allowed to run its course and consume most of the sugar, it will result in a dry wine with lower sugar levels. However, if the winemaker aims to make a sweeter wine, fermentation will be halted before completion to leave more residual sugar, thus creating a sweeter taste.
Side note: For more must-have details on the journey from grape to glass, be sure to check out our guide to winemaking.
Much like Chardonnay and many other wines, Grenache Blanc can be aged in oak. In this case, the wine will have a creamier texture and warmer tasting notes. Meanwhile, unoaked versions will have a crisper acidity and flavor.
It's worth noting that a growing number of vintners are producing single varietal Grenache Blanc, but most still use it in wine blends. Some of the more common blending partners for Grenache Blanc grapes include Roussanne, Marsanne, Viognier, Viura, and Muscat. It's most famously part of Chateauneuf-du-Pape (literally "The Pope's New Castle"), a bold French red wine blend from the Rhône Valley.
Sometimes white Grenache is also blended in vin doux naturels, which are naturally sweet, fortified wines. There are even some sparkling Grenache Blanc vinos, but those are much more uncommon.
What’s the Best Way To Enjoy Grenache Blanc?
We're firm believers that the best way to enjoy wine is simply to crack open a bottle and start sipping. (Just take a look at our selection of Usual Wines and you'll see what we mean.) Still, it helps to have some basic guidelines when serving and drinking vino.
Use these handy tips when you're ready to indulge in a little white Garnacha, whether you're kicking it solo at home or serving it at your next wine-tasting party. That's the wonderful thing about wine — it's a great idea for just about any occasion.
Keep It Cool
There's almost nothing worse than a warm glass of white wine (except maybe no wine at all), so make sure you chill it before drinking. The best wine temperature for a bottle of Grenache Blanc is about 45-50 degrees Fahrenheit. Keeping it cool at this range will ensure its delicate aromas, acidity, and fresh flavors remain intact. (It'll also help temper the "burn" from the higher alcohol content.)
That said, be careful not to serve it too cold either. White wine that's overly chilled will end up muting the flavors, leaving you with a bland beverage.
Before opening your bottle of white Grenache, place it in the fridge for a couple of hours. You can then take it out and set it on your countertop for about 20-30 minutes so it can warm up ever so slightly.
Bonus: There's no need to use a wine decanter with Grenache Blanc. It's a bit sensitive to oxidation, so you don't want it to breathe too long before enjoying.
Try These Can't-Miss Food Pairings
Grenache Blanc is a delicious partner for a wide variety of rich and flavorful dishes thanks to its spiced notes, pronounced green fruit flavors, and full body. Just don't go too spicy as the high alcohol will create too much of a burn.
Try this white vino with everything from braised short rib and spiced lamb to herb-crusted chicken and shrimp tempura. You can also pick up on the wine's spicy notes with hearty stews, and it pairs particularly well with Spanish, Indian, and Asian cuisines.
For meatless delicacies, consider roasted cauliflower steak or grilled zucchini, eggplant, and bell peppers. For cheese pairings, creamy soft cheeses like Brie and Camembert are great, while slightly harder cheeses like Comté, Swiss, and Gruyère make excellent partners.
If you feel like a sweet finish, try white Grenache with baked Asian pear or a green apple crumble to pick up on those fruity notes.
Keep These Glassware Tips in Mind
For best results, serve Grenache Blanc in a white wine glass that lets the aromas hit your nose and keeps the liquid cool thanks to its smaller bowl. However, you could also opt for a Chardonnay glass, which has a wider bowl to enhance creamy textures and full flavors.
Grab a Bottle of Grenache Blanc
From its longstanding roots in Spain and France to its increasing popularity in the U.S. and beyond, white Grenache is certainly a palate pleaser.
Sure, it might not be as well known as its scarlet-colored counterpart, but this straw-hued vino is far from bland. This flavorful, full-bodied white wine is worth exploring and enjoying, be it as a single varietal wine or in one of its more common blends. Now that you've learned about Grenache Blanc, it's time to apply your newfound appreciation for this delicious libation and grab a glass. Cheers!