VIC­TO­RIA MOORE Our ex­pert colum­nist chooses wine for the fes­tive sea­son

Why grenache is the per­fect part­ner for fes­tive foods

BBC Good Food - - Contents - @how_­to_­drink @Plan­etvic­to­riaa

Grenache is fruity enough and spicy enough to take on the ca­coph­ony of flavours on the Christ­mas ta­ble

Hands down, the most fes­tive grape of them all is grenache. It can lock away the sul­try heat of sum­mer sun­shine, so it’s per­fect poured into your glass on a cold win­ter night. It makes wine that has a sump­tu­ous qual­ity, like crushed crim­son vel­vet; that tastes like con­fit of red berries, and that has a teas­ing flare of al­co­hol that dances up and warms you even as you raise the glass to your lips. It wouldn’t feel like Christ­mas to me if I didn’t have grenache stowed some­where in the house.

This evoca­tive grape is found around the world but three places are par­tic­u­larly worth know­ing about. Grenache is the most im­por­tant grape in Châteauneuf-du-pape, as well as be­ing a stal­wart of the en­tire south­ern Rhône re­gion. Here, grenache of­ten has a trace of flavour that re­minds me of pumice, and dried thyme, and the tin­dery dry­ness of the Mediter­ranean scrub. The hill­sides of north-east­ern Spain are an­other su­perb source; here gar­nacha – as it is known lo­cally – tastes more plush, and less herbal. Its juicy, baked straw­berry, qual­ity comes more to the fore. The third place that does grenache ex­tremely well is Aus­tralia. Let me nar­row that down a bit to Mclaren Vale and the Barossa Val­ley in Aus­tralia, where old grenache vines make wine that is in­tensely suc­cu­lent, with a sat­u­rat­ing mul­berry flavour that en­velops you at first sip. So how best to de­ploy grenache as part of your Christ­mas al­co­hol ar­tillery? Its soft, wel­com­ing qual­ity makes it a

per­fect glass of red for win­ter drinks par­ties. Look to the DO of Campo de Borja in Aragon, in Spain, for in­ex­pen­sive ver­sions such as Tesco Old Vines Gar­nacha 2016, Spain (£5, Tesco). This grape can rise to the oc­ca­sion, too: grenache is fruity enough and spicy enough to take on the ca­coph­ony of flavours on the Christ­mas din­ner ta­ble. It is also su­perb with that fes­tive sea­son clas­sic, and this month’s cover star, the roast joint of ham.

I par­tic­u­larly en­joy the rich­ness of fruit you find in Aus­tralian grenache with pink slices of clovey roast gam­mon: try Yalumba Barossa Bush Vine Grenache 2015 (£10.99, Co-op), made from the fruit of vines planted be­tween 1898 and 1973. That her­itage re­ally shows in the wine. If you pre­fer to drink white, then try ries­ling with roast ham: it will em­pha­sise the suc­cu­lence of the meat. Try Cono Sur Reserva Espe­cial Ries­ling 2016, Chile (£9.75, Tesco). Fi­nally, the com­bi­na­tion of ease-ful­ness with a savoury thread make grenache-based blends from the Côtes du Rhône or Costières de Nîmes in France my go-to cold night kitchen bot­tle. Try Le Clar­ion des Anges 2015 Costières de Nîmes, France (£8.50, Booths) for a wine you’d be happy to drink ev­ery day.

Vic­to­ria Moore is an award-win­ning wine colum­nist and au­thor. Her new book, The Wine Dine Dic­tio­nary (£20, Granta), is out now.

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