France has the world's largest Grenache presence, with more hectares planted than any variety other than Merlot. The majority of Grenache is planted in the southern Rhône valley.
The grapes are large with thin skins, high sugar levels and low acidity and produce very fruity, rich, sweet-tasting wine with strawberry and raspberry characters and notes of white pepper and liquorice which evolve into toffee and leather with age. Grenache needs a hot climate to ripen and is often blended with other grape varieties. The wine produced is paler than most reds.
Many southern Rhône wines include several grape varieties as well as Grenache; the hotter and drier conditions here are ideal. The most famous appellation is Châteauneuf-du-Pape and its wines are typically full bodied, with medium tannins, low acidity and a character that includes strawberry, pepper, liquorice and leather notes. Increasing numbers of premium Grenache based wines are being made in Minervois.
It is easy to make fruity rosé from Grenache, which tends to be strawberry flavoured. Grenache is used widely for rosé in southern France.