The Carménère grape is a wine grape variety originally planted in the Médoc region of Bordeaux, France, where it was used to produce deep red wines and occasionally used for blending purposes in the same manner as Petit Verdot.
A member of the Cabernet family of grapes, the name "Carménère" originates from the French word for crimson (carmin) which refers to the brilliant crimson colour of the autumn foliage prior to leaf-fall. The grape is also known as Grande Vidure, a historic Bordeaux synonym, although current European Union regulations prohibit Chilean imports under this name into the European Union. Along with Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Malbec and Petit Verdot, Carménère is considered part of the original six red grapes of Bordeaux, France.
Most Carménère wines have striking aromas of raspberry sauce, sour cherry, green peppercorn and a granite-like minerality. On the more affordable end, you can expect to find Carménère wines with honest fruity red berry aromas and tart flavors of raspberry with a subtle bitter taste similar to kale. In fact, Carménère has many similarities in terms of body and texture to Merlot. On the higher end, the herbaceous bitter notes depart the scene in favor of sweet berries, refined light tannin and a bittersweet note, like cocoa powder.
Carménère makes an excellent everyday food pairing wine for several reasons. For one, its natural higher acidity make so it’s never lost when paired next to foods with higher acidity sauces. Another keen benefit is Carménère’s herbaceous peppercorn-like flavor that often embellishes roasted meats (from chicken to beef). Finally, the lower tannin in Carménère make it a friendly option for lighter, less fatty dishes. In short, this is one to keep around for just about everything. Still, make note of the keen matches to try with Carménère below:
Chicken Mole, Carne Asada, Cuban-style Roast Pork, Roast Dark Meat Turkey, Beef Brisket, Beef Stew, Filet Mignon, Lamb w/ Mint, Lamb Stew
Goat Cheese, Mozzarella, Pepper Jack, Farmer’s Cheese, Cotija Cheese, Feta Cheese
Green Peppercorn, Black Pepper, Red Chili Flake, Chipotle, Garlic, Cumin, Coriander, Thyme, Oregano, Chives, Lemon
Olives, Stuffed Peppers, Roasted Peppers, Capers, Sautéed Garlic Kale, Black-eyed Peas, Black Beans, White Bean and Kale Soup, Pinto Bean Chile, Lentils