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  • Writer's pictureMolly Jean

Molly's Meal Match: Garnacha/Grenache/Cannonau

Updated: Aug 22, 2021

This grape variety is known by several names; it's known by Garnacha in Spain, Grenache in France, and by Cannonau in Italy. Despite the belief that it hailed from Spain, it's known primarily as Grenache in many other regions. It's used to produce single varietal wines and is a major component in many famous wine blends. Grenache can be produced from either red or white grapes, both of which make delicious wines. For this Meal Match, will be focusing on the wines produced from red grapes (Garnacha Tinta and Grenache Noir).

This hardy grape grows successfully in hot climate regions, due to its high drought and heat tolerances. The grape can be viewed as an indicator of global warming, because places that once were not suited for this grape, now grow it quite well.

These hotter climates develop higher sugar content in the grapes for yeasts to feed on, and turn into alcohol. Which means these grapes, tend to produce high alcohol wines. This coupled with the medium tannin level and low acidity can lead to un-balanced alcohol bombs.

These factors also leave this varietal more susceptible to oxidation, making many Grenache wines unsuitable for extended aging. But don't let this scare you; by doing a little research and following my wine buying tips, you can avoid unbalanced sippers.

You can find delicious Grenache wines in dry to sweet styles, bold to light styles, and in fruity to earthy styles. The magic of this wine is revealed in its layers of aromas and flavors. You can amplify the characteristics, simply by manipulating the serving temperature. Start by sipping these wines chilled, allowing the wine to warm to room temperature as you sip through the bottle. The flavors and aromas will evolve as the temperature changes in the wine. You will notice the red fruit and floral aromas develop into spicy-herbal tones.

Wine Buying Tips

Grenache from the South of France will be bold with the acid and tannin structure needed for aging up to 10+ years.

Look for the term old vine on the label from regions outside of France. These wines are made from more concentrated grapes and make bolder, more tannic wines.

Many wines made from this varietal are high in alcohol (upwards of 14.5%), running the risk of being unbalanced. Check with your wine shop for a trusted producer or look for wines from the suggested regions below.


Spain: Garnacha

Garnacha has a reputation of being over produced and low in quality in some areas of Spain. The wines tend to be lighter bodied, simple and often used only in blending for its high alcohol and sweetness qualities. However, the reputation has been evolving since the late 80's / early 90's and notable regions in Spain produce dense, inky old vine Garnacha, like those from the Catalonia (Priorat DOQ) and Aragon (Calatyud DO) wine regions.

Recommended Wine Picks

Catayud DO - requirement for vines to be a minimum of 35 years old, the wines are dense, juicy, rich wines with a distinguishing minerality.

Priorat DOQ - intense red wines with notes of deep black fruits, chocolate and licorice spice. DOQ (Denominació d'Origen Qualificada) is a designation for Catalan wines, of which are quality wines.

France: Grenache

Grenache is the most important variety in the Southern Rhone blend; it gives these wines body, some sweetness and red fruit & spice flavors. It's important to note it is the primary grape used in wines from the region's most famous appellation: Châteauneuf-du-Pape. This is a unique region where the soil is comprised of large smooth stones, that retain heat from the sun and protect the underlying soil layer from getting dehydrated. Wines from this region are often aged in cement tanks, offering flavors and aromas indicative of the terroir - in lieu of its oak influences.

Fun fact, the stones in this prestigious region can range in size from your fist to a pumpkin!

Recommended Wine Picks

Côtes du Rhône Villages - intended for limited aging, medium body, red fruit and spice flavors.

Châteauneuf-du-Pape - full bodied, high alcohol with complex flavors of dried fruit and caramel with aging.

Italy: Cannonau

Cannanou is Sardinia's (Sardegna) most successful grape and is often drier/higher in tannin than those from other regions. Like in other regions, this grape can produce wines that taste like berries soaked in alcohol if you are not careful. Pay attention to vine age in this region, because it is a good indicator of quality. They will have more concentrated flavors, that are less likely to be overwhelmed by the high alcohol levels of the grape.

Recommended Wine Picks

Cannonau di Sardegna - old vine wines have notes of crushed gravel, blackberry, raspberry and oregano spice.

Australia: Grenache

Grenache was brought to Australia in the 19th century, from Spain. The Barossa Valley and McLaren Vale regions produce quality wines from their 100+ year old vines. Due to the age of the vines, they produce low yield, concentrated grapes, resulting in distinguished wines with spicy and thick cherry flavors.

Recommended Wine Picks

Barossa Valley & McLaren Valle - old vine Grenache, with concentrated red fruit and spice flavors, long aging potential.


Flavors + Aromas

Primary (grape and alcoholic fermentation):

Floral: hibiscus, lavender, honey suckle*

Green Fruit: pear*

Citrus Fruit: blood orange, grapefruit, lemon zest*

Stone Fruit:

Tropical Fruit:

Red Fruit: strawberry, raspberry, red plum, cherry

Black Fruit: black plum, blackberry, blueberry

Herbaceous: olive

Herbal: dried herbs, rosemary, sage, eucalyptus, dill*

Spice: cumin, allspice, black pepper, black tea, cinnamon, licorice

Fruit Ripeness:

Other: crushed gravel, clay pot,

Secondary (post-fermentation winemaking):

Yeast: toast*

Malolactic Conversion: cream*

Oak: clove, smoke, vanilla, chocolate

Tertiary (maturation/aging):

Leather, game, espresso, stewed strawberry, grilled plum, raspberry sauce, candied cherry, prune, fig, fruit leather

*Grenache Blanc Notes

Food pairings

Pair with duck, ground beef, strawberries, roasted veggies, cumin, smoked/gilled dishes and plenty of cheeses.


Feta Pasta

Palmalias Cannonau Di Sardegna 2019

The famous Instagram Feta Pasta recipe! It's hard to beat this simple roasted tomato and cheesy noodle dish! The melted feta has an acidic tang, while the roasted tomatoes provide the perfect touch of sweetness to make it so drool worthy. The Italian herbs sprinkled on top, compliment the melody of red fruit flavors in the Cannonau wine. The signature Italian red cherry and dusty plum aromas are rounded out, by the wine's moderate acidity and tannin. Take the recipe up a notch and add chicken or some pancetta for a savory protein boost!

Shopping List

Dry Goods:

16 oz egg noodles (shape of your choce)

1/2 tbsp dried of oregano

1/2 tbsp dried parsley

1/2 tbsp dried basil

1/4 tbsp dried thyme

1/4 tbsp dried rosemary

1/4 cup of avocado oil

salt &pepper to taste

Refrigerated Goods

block of feta cheese


2 cups of grape tomatoes

2-3 cloves of garlic (minced)

fresh basil for garnish


1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. (Also can be done on the Traeger)

2. In a 9x9 casserole dish or one similar size, place the feta square in the center of the dish. Fill the tomatoes in around the cheese.

3. Sprinkle the seasonings and minced garlic evenly over the cheese and tomatoes and drizzle the avocado oil over the top.

4. Bake for 30 minutes, uncovered.

5. Meanwhile, cook your noodles to package instructions.

6. When it is done baking, remove from the oven and mix the cheese and roasted tomatoes together.

7. Add the drained noodles over the top and evenly coat the noodles with the cheese and tomato mixture.

8. Garnish with basil and serve immediately.


Pomegranate Glazed Meatballs

Halos de Jupiter Côtes du Rhône

This savory dish is perfect for the bold and sweet flavors of a Côtes du Rhône. The sweetness of the pomegranate glaze is complimented by the red fruit flavors of the wine. The fattiness of the meatballs, ease the tannin and allow the fruity and floral notes of the wine to shine through.

Shopping List

Dry Goods:

1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch

2 cups pomegranate juice

1/4 cup panko crumbs

pinch of ground cloves

salt & pepper to taste

1 tbsp of honey

Refrigerated Goods

2 tbsp of water

1 eggs

1 1/2 lbs of ground beef

1/2 lbs of ground sausage


1/2 tbsp parsley

1/2 tbsp basil

onion (finely chopped)

shallot (finely chopped of minced)

2 cloves minced garlic


1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

2. In a small bowl, whisk together egg, parsley, basil, shallot, garlic, salt and panko crumbs.

3. In a large bowl, mix together ground beef and sausage. When evenly mixed, add in the egg mixture.

4. Roll the meat into 1.5 inch balls and evenly space them on a foil lined baking sheet.

5. Bake the meatballs for 35-40 minutes, until cooked through.

6. Meanwhile, sauté diced onion in a large sauce pan until translucent.

7. Add in the pomegranate juice, honey and pinch of ground cloves.

8. In a separate small bowl, mix together corn starch and 2 tbsp of water. Once combined, add to the large sauce pan. Bring to a low simmer and allow the sauce to thicken.

9. When the meatballs are done add them to the large sauce pan. Gently toss them in the sauce, until evenly coated.

10. Serve warm, topped with some parsley for garnish.


Onion Burgers

La Conreria Priorat Tinto

The burger for onion lovers! This burger is served on an onion bun, with caramelized onion cheese...topped with fresh red onions and a mustard aioli. This pairing was a pleasant surprise. Though, I would not pair this burger with some other Grenache/Garnacha wines.

Unlike other Garnacha wines, Priorat has the structure to pair well with heavier recipes like this one. The high tannin and acid, give the wine enough body to stand up to the fattiness of the burger; allowing the fruit forward flavors in the wine to shine through.

Shopping List

Dry Goods:

onion buns

1 tbsp of white wine vinegar

Refrigerated Goods

1/2 cup of mayo

1 tbsp of stoneground mustard

caramelized onion cheese (can be found at Trader Joe's)

1 lbs ground beef

Worchester sauce

salt & pepper (to taste)


1 red onion (sliced)

mixed green lettuce


1. Get your grill or Traeger up to a high heat. Remove your cheese from the refrigerator and bring to room temp - it will melt more easily.

2.Pack the beef into 1/4 lb patties. Dash the garlic powder, pepper, salt, and Worchester sauce on each side of the patty. I do not measure this out, I just go for it. Set aside.

3. In a small bowl, mix together the vinegar, mayo, mustard, pinch of salt and pepper to taste. Set aside your mustard aioli.

4. When the grill is to temp, slap those meat patties on the grill.

5. While the patties are cooking, sip on your wine.

6. Check your patties, use your intuition for flipping. They should cook a total of 7-10 minutes depending on your grill and desired doneness level.

7. Build your burger.

bottom bun > mustard aioli > beef patty > caramelized onion cheese > red onion > mustard aioli > top bun


Smoked Chicken Chilaquiles

Torbreck 2013 Cuvée Juveniles

This is a dangerous recipe! Another one meant for 4+ people and easily devoured by two. It's essentially a taco lasagna. The savory and gentle spice flavors in the dish, are a great pairing with this fruit forward Grenache. It has aromas of cherry, cranberry, leather and smoke. A definite compliment to the binge worthy dish. This is a great easy meal to make if you have left over chicken from the night before.

Shopping List

Dry Goods:

1 bag of corn tortilla chips

1 can of corn (drained)

1 can of black beans (drained)

1 tbsp of tomato paste

salt & pepper (to taste)

1 tbsp avocado oil

Refrigerated Goods

1 to 2 cups of cooked shredded chicken

1 1/2 cups of salsa

1/2 cup of vegetable broth

1/2 cup of sour cream

cotija cheese for garnish


1/2 sweet onion (diced)

1 red bell pepper (diced)

3 cloves garlic (minced)

1/4 cup of cilantro (chopped)


1.Pre-heat your Traeger (smoker or oven) to 350 degrees.

2. In a medium sauce pan with warmed avocado oil, sauté the onion, bell pepper, and garlic until fragrant and softened (3-5 minutes).

3. Stir in the tomato paste with the veggies. Then add the broth, salsa, drained corn, drain black beans and cooked shredded chicken.

4. Bring to a boil and simmer until the mixture is heated through.

5. Remove from heat and add in the sour cream.

6. In a greased 9 x 11 baking dish, begin to layer.

chips > chicken mixture > chopped cilantro > chips > chicken mixture > chopped cilantro

7. Sip some wine.

8. Put in the dish in your Traeger (smoker or oven) and bake for 25 - 30 minutes.

9. Serve topped with a dollop of sour cream, cotija cheese, and a lime wedge.

10. Try not to eat the whole dish.


I hope you enjoyed learning about Grenache/Garnacha/Cannonau and checking out these pairing suggestions. If you have feedback, comments, or questions please feel free to comment below, post to The Wine Tails Facebook Page, or message me on Instagram.

Thank you Wine Simple, Wine for Normal People, The Wine Bible, and Wine Folly for providing me with amazing research materials. Follow along with The Wine Tails Pinterest page to see what gets me motivated and gives me inspiration for these pairings.

Cheers and happy sipping!

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