Grenache Vs Pinot Noir: How These Red Wines Taste & Pair With Food

When you see Grenache Vs Pinot Noir on the menu, do you know which one to choose? Both can be appealing wines. Yet few wine lovers know these grape varieties in detail. Use this quick comparison guide to understand these wines’ key differences and similarities.

Grenache vs Pinot Noir - discover how these red wines compare

Grenache vs Cabernet Sauvignon: Detailed Comparison

The Pinot Noir vs Grenache comparison is challenging because winemaking techniques vary worldwide. A bottle of wine made in South Africa will be quite different from South Australia or other wine regions.

Taste and Aroma

Grenache wine is known for its distinctive tastes of black cherries, plum, raspberry, tobacco, notes of strawberry, and orange rinds. The fruity flavors in Pinot Noir are only partially similar. In general, the fruity flavors of Pinot Noir wine taste like raspberry, flavors of cherry, and mushroom (find out more about wine flavors in this Malbec vs Pinot Noir comparison). When the wine is aged in oak, notes of cinnamon are typical.

Comparing the fruit flavors between these two varieties is one of the best ways to learn to appreciate the beauty of wine. Try comparing a young bottle with a bit of bottle age to make the difference sharp. Asking for an aged wine is one of the easiest ways to find richer wines when visiting your favorite wine shop.


Pinot Noir wine is known for its bright acidity, a great point to keep in mind if you like the refreshing quality of many white wines. On the other hand, Grenache wine has a medium acidity well, so the acidity element is less significant.

Alcohol Levels

Regarding wine content, these two famous grapes are pretty different. Grenache wine has an alcohol content of 13.5-15%, while Pinot Noir’s alcohol content ranges from 12% to 15% – it is higher in warmer wine countries. For those who want something different in their glass of wine, trying low sugar wines might be a good idea.

Sugar Content

Differences in sugar content significantly impact the wine’s sweetness level. Wine experts measure residual sugar per liter to compare sugar content in wine. Given the differences in climate and techniques across wine countries, it is tough to generalize about these two wine grapes. Grenache has a sugar content under 4 g/l while Pinot Noir has a similar level (i.e., 1-5 g/l).

Wine Body

Pinot Noir is typically considered a light to medium-bodied wine in comparing these wine varieties. Grenache Cabernet Sauvignon has a full body which corresponds to its high level of alcohol content. On the other hand, Grenache tends to be made in a medium-bodied style of wine.

Dry Wine vs. Sweet Wine

Across wine countries, dry wines tend to be more common than sweeter wines. As a result, most of the wine you encounter today will be made in a dry wine style. Grenache is usually made in a dry style of wine, though some producers make it semi-sweet or sweet. Likewise, almost all Pinot Noir is made in a dry wine style.

Tannin Content

Unlike white wines, tannin content in red wine grapes is a significant point to keep in mind in the Grenache vs Pinot Noir comparison. In Grenache, wine grapes have a medium level of tannins, while Pinot Noir has a low level of tannins. These tannin levels mean that each wine works with a variety of foods.

Food Pairings

Varietal wines – those made mainly or entirely from a single wine grape – pair well with many different foods. Let’s take a look at each red wine in sequence.

Pinot Noir Food Pairings

Pinot Noir is a versatile wine that plays well with many different foods. The optimal pairing depends upon the wine region and wine style. These pairing suggestions will focus on the classic pairings that tend to work well with many types of Pinot Noir.

Pinot Noir goes well with lamb, rare steak, wild mushrooms, and dishes that include cherries (including dessert dishes). Cheese pairing includes goat cheese and some milder blue cheeses. For even more tips on what to eat with your glass of Pinot Noir, see my post on Pinot Noir food pairing.

Grenache Food Pairings

As a red wine, Grenache goes well with many kinds of meat dishes, including beef, veal, pork, and chicken. The red wine can also work well with Asian dishes like Chinese spare ribs and tomato-based curries. This versatile wine also combines well with cheeses like asiago, cheddar, feta, and Romano.

Some of the world’s best grenache wine is made in Spain. Therefore, take a look at trying out some classic Spanish or even dishes like paella, gazpacho, or churros with your next glass of Grenache wine. Grenache is also considered an excellent pairing for traditional British dishes like shepherd’s pie and lamb.

The Top Wine Regions

Do you know your Côtes Du Rhône wines from your McLaren Vale? If not, don’t worry; you’re about to learn about the leading wine regions that produce outstanding Pinot Noir vs. Grenache.

Pinot Noir Wine Regions                           

You can find Pinot Noir in many different countries and wine regions today. France- specifically the Burgundy region- is the best place to start your Pinot Noir wine shopping journey. Alas, Burgundy wine sometimes comes with a very high price tag. Fortunately, you can also find excellent Pinot Noir from other areas like the Pacific Northwest (i.e., Oregon and Washington State). Also, New Zealand has become famous for its Pinot Noir, which pairs well with stronger cheeses.

Grenache Wine Regions

There are multiple wine regions producing great Grenache wine today. In France alone, you can find great rosé wines made from Grenache in Provenance. Also, the southern Rhone and Languedoc are known for their Pinot Noir.

Outside of France, Spain is considered a world leader in Grenache (known as Garnacha). In Spanish wines, you will often find Grenache used in blended wines by attentive winemakers seeking to make more pleasing wines. Australian winemakers grow Grenache in several areas, including the Barossa Valley and McLaren Valley. Australian soil is outstanding for producing many types of wine, so it’s no surprise that they can produce Grenache effectively.

The Main Varieties of Grenache

You may come across related wines like Grenache Noir and Grenache Blanc as you taste more Grenache wine. As wine expert Jancis Robinson points out, Grenache grapes come in three different colors: Grenache Noir, Grenache Gris and Grenache Blanc. As the name suggests, Grenache Blanc is a white wine grape. On the other hand, Grenache Noir is a popular red wine grape in the Languedoc and Rhone. To taste an exceptional example, seek our Grenache Noir from Château Rayas.

Grenache Vs Pinot Noir Final Thoughts

Comparing Grenache vs Pinot Noir is a fun way to learn more about the world of red wines. These wines share some similarities, such as a relatively high alcohol level – expect both of these wines to be over 13% alcohol by volume. Both of these wines also tend to have a relatively low sugar content level.

The critical difference between these wines lies in their fruity flavors. Grenache wine is known for its distinctive tastes of black cherries, plum, raspberry, tobacco, notes of strawberry, and orange rinds. Pinot Noir is known for raspberry, flavors of cherry, and mushroom. When the wine is aged in oak, notes of cinnamon are standard.

Are you curious to continue exploring the world of Pinot Noir? Check out this wine comparison guide –
Pinot Noir vs Cabernet Sauvignon – to discover more about the red wine world.

Grenache Vs Pinot Noir: How These Red Wines Taste & Pair With Food
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