News & Content Editor Joanna Goodman shares some thoughts on food to go with carmenère.
From what you have read so far about the carmenère grape it will come as no surprise to learn that when made well and produced in a beautifully balanced style, it can be a pretty versatile variety when it comes to food pairing. When it forms part of a Bordeaux-style blend it is often more big-boned and structured with enough oomph to handle full-flavoured dishes and heft to cut through the meatiest of fare.
Victoria Moore says about the grape in her book The Wine Dine Dictionary that there's an intriguing herbaceous and spicy character to the wines made from this grape which make them particularly good with foods of a similar spectrum – Moroccan tagines and ripe tomato dishes like ratatouille spring to mind. Its flavours are jagged and edgy enough to cope with quite complex seasoning, particularly when the wines are not made in a 'jammy' style.
And of course Chileans love their asados (or barbecues) – we wrote on this subject in last year's Travels in Wine – and carmenère wines are a natural choice, the tannins in the wine help to cut through that protein hit in the meat!
The grape has enough about it to not be thrown off-scent by the spicy salsas that tend to be served alongside the grilled meats and vegetables.
And if you love Chile con carne, you should look no further than the versatile carmenère, but be warned, the same tannins that help give structure to the wine will clash with chilli if it is too hot.
Other long slow braised dishes, such as hot-pots, black bean stews and goulash are a sure-fire hit too.
Black Bean Chilli
If spice is your thing, the not-so-fiery Indian dishes can work a treat too – lamb bhuna or cardamom-infused beef or chicken dishes, for example.
Slow-braised dishes and Sunday roasts show many a wine off to perfection and carmenère, alone or in a Bordeaux-style blend is no exception.
Pot Roast Beef with Carrots
Everyday wines from the carmenère grape are a great choice for sharing plates of salamis and pâtés with great hunks of bread, or you could try with a mid-week toad-in-the-hole or satisfying beef and mustard doorstep sandwich!
Toby's take on the grape is that he has picked wines that display a pleasing freshness, so maybe sip while the barbecue is heating up and enjoy discovering this new grape, or new-found grape, in splendid isolation!
> View our wines made from carmenère
> Go to our online recipes for more foodie inspiration