Garnacha: The Wine That Goes With (Almost) Everything

March 17, 2010

Pork Tenderloin
Whenever I visit my mother in Reno, I always take advantage of her palatial kitchen (which is about as big as my studio apartment) to make her favorite dish: pork tenderloin. I never buy any specific spices for the pork, I just empty out the spice rack and create a new rub each time. The most recent rub included: salt and pepper (duh), pasilla chile powder, garlic powder, paprika, and Italian seasoning. And maybe a few other things that I cannot recall. I do not measure the spices nor know how the flavors will work together but, luckily, pork tenderloin is a pretty blank canvas that can take a lot of seasoning. I started by searing the tenderloin in a pan. To get the pork ready to finish in the oven, I sliced up some apple and onion to make a bed for it on the bottom of a shallow baking dish. Hmm...maybe I should add some liquid? Why not pour in a little Old Rasputin Imperial Stout from the bottle I was enjoying to help keep the pork moist? When it was time to take it out of the oven I let it rest, sliced it, and served a reduction of the beer with the apples and onions on top.

Now what wine do you drink with a pork tenderloin with a motley spice rub and an apple/onion/stout sauce? It called for some Spanish Garnacha (aka Grenache). Something about Grenache, with it's rich body, peppery/spicy notes, and low tannin make it work with just about anything from chicken to pork and even beef. And Spanish Grenache, like the old-vine Las Rocas, also has loads of fruit that compliments all kinds of disparate savory ingredients. I think the only red as versatile would be Cotes-du-Rhone, which is not surprising as it is usually Grenache-based. But I find the Spanish examples usually ramp up the fruit, which really ties everything together.

So how do you go about creating a spice rub? The everybody-in-the-pool technique or is there more of a method to your madness?

Jameson Fink is a wine buyer at a bustling grocery store in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood. He moved to Seattle from Chicago (where he dabbled in the restaurant and wine industries) five years ago to pursue a full-time career in wine. He’d rather be drinking Champagne and eating popcorn right now.



SarahKate's picture

I love love love a good Grenache. When we lived in Australia a lot of wine makers started selling GSM- Grenache, Shiraz and Malbec blends. Gorgeous!

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Las Rocas Source's picture

Thanks for the mention, Jameson! I agree with you on the food-matching point: conventional wisdom calls for serving a “big” tannic wine with red meats, but actually full flavor is more important, and smoother reds do just as well as those with upfront tannins like Cabernet and Merlot. In fact, a good Garnacha, like Las Rocas, can work well with just about any kind of meal—the flavors are bold enough to stand up to juicy steaks but also behaved enough to not overpower poultry and fish such as salmon.

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