Spanish Garnacha is fit for a crowd

Recently I tried two garnachas and found two wines that were delicious, but different from one another. The 2007 Xiloca garnacha ($11.95) hails from Ribera del Jiloca. It is a very new world style wine with loads of ripe fruit and a slight peppery finish. It is an excellent option just to drink. Its tannins are soft enough, and fruit bold enough that it doesn’t need food to be its best. The taste of red berries dominates.

The 2007 Las Rocas de San Alejandro garnacha ($10.99) is from the Calatayud denominacion de origen in the region of Zaragoza. Earthy old world style wine. The fruit is still evident, but there are also hints of saddle leather and tobacco. The old world characerisics of this wine make it a good choice for food.

For me garnacha is a casual wine, and one of my favorite pairings is with a nice juicy burger. If I am going with the jammy Xiloca type of garnacha, I love it with finger foods for a casual get together. Good go alongs include deviled eggs, squares of tortilla espanol (potato and onion omelet), salty cheeses and smoked tri-tip crostini. It is also wonderful with picadillo (click here for the recipe), pairing wonderfully with the sweet raisins and salty olives.

For the old world Las Rocas style garnacha I like a robust stew, roast pork with sweet plantains, or rabbit (click here for recipe). The earthiness of the wine complements these hearty dishes.

Theses wines have lots of flavor, and tend to be excellent value. They are a perfect wine for Tuesday night tacos, or a weekend cookout. They are affordable enough to serve to a big group, and approachable and flavorful enough to satisfy a wide variety of wine consumers.

To read what and where Colleen is eating and drinking, follow her on Twitter @colleensachs.

Garnacha is the most widely planted red wine grape in Spain. It is a versatile wine…..great with food, but because of its normally rounded tannins it is good on its own as well.

The same varietal is known as grenache in much of the world, and there are many wonderful ways it is used. In France, it is an important component of Chateauneuf-du-Pape and the rose Tavel from the Rhone region. Grenache is the most common grape in Baynuls dessert wine. It is also found in Australia, where it is often part of a jammy GSM (grenache-shiraz-mourvedre) blend, and frequently found in port-style wines.

I eat alot of Spanish food, and like food and wine pairings where both are from the same area. That often leads me to garnacha. It is commonly seen as a booster for red wine blends. But recently there have been more producers who let garnacha either stand on its on, or star in the show.

Garnacha tends to be big on flavor. It can be light in color, but both the garnachas mentioned here have a lovely deep hue. Grown in regions where it is hot and dry to accommodate the late ripening grapes, garnacha is characterized by spicy fruit and somewhat high alcohol content.

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