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Review: Grenache creamy maple spread

A jar of Grenache creamy maple spread, with quaint Canadian winterscape label.

Another quirky find at Calgary’s fabulous Kalamata grocery store, this homely looking jar of Grenache “creamy spread” is mysterious, yet sounds yummy. It’s made by Smucker Foods of Canada, so it’s not some tiny artisanal product. And yet, this is the first time I’ve seen it.

When I think Grenache, I think of the common grape variety used to make wine. After a bit of googling, I learned there are other Grenache spreads out there (often involving Caramel), and that it’s likely one of those Quebec things that doesn’t make it far out of the province. Any Ontarian readers care to comment? Have you seen this in your neck of the woods?

This scoop of Grenache clearly wants to slide down the spoon and onto the floor.

The Pitch: “Creamy Spread Blend,” whatever that means. “With 14% real Quebec syrup.” Maple syrup is on the ingredients list right after glucose-fructose and sugar.

The Look: A glass jar with a folksy label featuring a painted winter scene of kids playing in a snowy stand of trees. As with most Canadian products, the label is in both English and French; however, unlike most of those same bilingual products, French gets top billing. Another clue to its regional popularity? The Nutritional Facts panel uses commas instead of periods for decimal points. Which leads us to …

The Totally Unrelated Aside: I’m keenly aware of this little decimal detail. During my early years of French immersion, all my math classes were in French; as a result, so far as young me knew, everyone in the world used commas as decimal points, and periods between groups of three digits. In practical terms, my head wanted it to be $1.000,00 instead of $1,000.00. Once I got to high school, math class switched to English, and my teachers repeatedly expressed their frustration at my mixing up commas and periods. It’s one of those strange Canadian bilingual childhood things. I’m sure others had the same experience.

The Taste: Let’s break this into two categories, shall we?

  • On its own, eaten from a spoon: Open the jar and BAM! Maple aroma. Very soft and velvety texture. It’s not liquid, but the scoop of Grenache paste wants to slide off the spoon. Extremely sweet, with a maple and creamy chemical taste. It’s hard to pin down, but I can taste a hint of that flavour you get when you accidentally get a bit of shampoo lather in your mouth. It ruins an otherwise appealing flavour.
  • On a fresh slice of bread: Not bad. The maple and bread (yeast flavours, especially) get along famously. It’s sort of like eating French toast with maple syrup, but without the egg-coating and cooking time. With other flavours to mask it, the chemical note isn’t as strong.

 

A jar of Grenache, with a bit missing. Note the soft, creamy texture.

RATINGS AND DETAILS

Cost: $2.99 for a 470 gram jar at Kalamata grocery in Calgary.

Value for cash money: Good.

Availability: First I’ve seen it, but it must be available elsewhere.

Nutrition?: Per 1 tablespoon (20 grams): 70 calories, 1.5 grams of fat, 35 mg of sodium, 0 grams of fibre, 0.2 grams of protein.

The verdict: I can see why people like it. If you can’t get enough maple in your life, this might help. I’m sure some folks searching for “Grenache,” “maple” and “Calgary” will be delighted to know they can find their fix at Kalamata.

Some Grenache, spread on a slice of yummy Prairie Mill bread.

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