You most likely know grenache as the generally rich and fruity grape variety that is so readily relied upon as a blending partner in France's southern Rhone wine region, among other parts of the world. It also shows up here and there as a varietal wine, of course.

And you probably even know that garnacha is the Spanish version of grenache — the same grape with a similar but distinct name to account for the countries’ language differences.

That is all bon and bueno, but you would be well served to flip your thinking around on that last little bit. Don’t think of garnacha as Spanish for grenache — think of grenache as French for garnacha. The consensus of the folks who study such things is that garnacha hails from the Aragon region of northern Spain. Over time the grape made its way into southwestern France and all the way east to its wheelhouse, the Rhone Valley.

Somewhere between those two spots is the French town of Nimes (pronounced Neem.) As the story goes, Nimes is where a now-famous twill fabric got a long-ago indigo dye job and eventually became the bottom half of the casual uniform of the modern American (with a nod to our cowboy and prospector forebears). We call the fabric denim, but it was once called “serge de Nimes.” De Nimes. DeNEEM. You see?


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