With all of the rain we’ve had to deal with over the past couple of months, the idea of a big pot of soup and a nice glass of red wine sounds just about perfect. This month’s recipe takes that concept one step further by adding the flavors and aromas of Thanksgiving… comfort food with comfort fragrances and a comfort beverage… count me in!
Grenache is a light to medium bodied red wine with light tannins and nice fruit, spice and herbal characteristics. This composition makes Grenache an especially versatile wine and allows it to pair nicely with the varied flavors and textures of our turkey and cranberry soup. While the acidity and tannins are relatively muted in this wine, they are present enough to stand up to the heavy cream and butter in the recipe while the nicely apparent berry fruit flavors can meld well with the dried cranberries. Grenache’s natural herbal notes, often reminiscent of oregano and tobacco, will marry well with the dried and fresh herbs and the light spiciness of the wine (think white pepper) matches nicely with the soup’s spices.
Grenache is grown in many parts of the world and it thrives in areas with ample heat, such as Spain, Southern France, Southern Italy, Australia and certain parts of Napa and Sonoma Counties. South America is producing an increasing amount of the grapes, which typically go by the Spanish name in that part of the world, which is “Garnacha”. This grape’s versatility makes it excellent for blending and some wonderfully complex wines that include Grenache can be found across the globe. Perhaps the most widely recognized blend here in the states is some form of the traditional “GSM” grapes, modeled after the wines of the Rhone region of France. “GSM” refers to Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre, three grape varietals which complement each other exceptionally well.
Instead of the quick preparation of the soup which is called for in the recipe, I would suggest letting it simmer low and slow for a while. Let it bubble at least long enough to fill your home with the warm, comforting aromas that remind us that we can survive this wet, cold and dreary time of year and that the promise of spring is right around the corner. Then serve up some steaming bowls of the soup along with some fresh, local sourdough bread and a nice bottle of Grenache and make a toast to living well. Cheers!
Jeff James is the founder and co-owner, with his wife Judy, of Stony Point Vineyard and James Family Cellars. Their Cotati vineyard and winery have consistently produced award-winning wines. Jeff can be reached at info@JamesFamilyCellars.com or www.JamesFamilyCellars.com