Carménère: The Other Red Meat Wine

With grills firing left and right, it’s time to take a look at carménère, a great wine for grilled red meat

I am a big fan of carménère, and really appreciate the way the fruit and savory flavors of a well done carménère pair with beef. Not just any beef, mind you. What comes to mind is a beautiful sirloin steak from grass-fed beef grilled over a hardwood fire. The steak should not be a monster; not so thick that one needs to really char it to get it warmed through, but rather about an inch thick so that it gets a nice caramelized crust, yet remains just barely past rare. That is my ideal carménère steak, and while this detail may seem a bit excessive, I do have my reasons.

Reason #1: Carménèreis not a big wine, so there’s no need to pair it with a more powerfully flavored cut of beef, like something dry aged for 30 or 60 days.

Reason #2: Carménèreis not particularly tannic, nor are better examples particularly oaky, so a well-charred steak may overpower the flavors of the wine.

Reason #3: Full of red fruit, herbal notes, and bright acidity, carménère works ideally with the flavors of rare beef.

This does not mean that there aren't exceptions, both on the wine side and the steak side, that allow you to enjoy carménère with a broad selection of meats. You can enjoy your carménère any way you want to, but me? I’m sticking to my steak.

Here are 10 examples of carménère to help get you in the mood. I’m tasting many of these wines for the second time, and two years after first tasting them I am becoming convinced that you don’t want to cellar too many carménères. Enjoy these wines on the younger side!

Click here for 10 carménère recommendations.

— Gregory Dal Piaz, Snooth

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