Carménère is a red wine that pairs best with lean but meaty dishes such as Lamb with Mushrooms, Pork Tacos, Turkey, Beef Stew, Pasta with Meat Sauce, Tuna Steak or grilled chicken. Herbal, smoky, earthy and savoury, Carménère is also excellent with veggies such as grilled eggplant, zucchini, mushrooms and bell peppers.

Carménère smells like smoke, earth, black pepper and blood as it’s not often an aromatic wine. Blood may seem like a weird description, however, Carménère has a stony minerality and bitterness that reminds me of blood. That’s not to say Carménère tastes like a desert wasteland battlefield from the latest Mad Max flick. Carménère’s fruitiness of plums, black cherries, and blackberries comes out more in each sip, but the fruitiness is balanced by the savouriness of the herbal, mocha, tar, earth and gaminess of this wine.

The Carménère is also lower in acidity and tannin than other red wines, so it requires low-fat meats. Carménère isn’t a wine you’d want to pair up with a prime rib dinner as the wine doesn’t have the weight to hold up to the fat, however, Carménère will be magnificent with beef tenderloin.

The majority of Carménère comes from Chile, although you’ll also find it grown in France, Italy, Argentina, California and Washington State. Chile just so happens to have a lot of Carménère as they accidently planted acres upon acres of it during the 1800s as they thought they were planting Merlot. Excellent producers of Chilean Carménère include Almaviva, Concha y Toro, Montes, and Terra Noble.

Best Food with Carménère

Lamb with Mushrooms and Herbs & Carménère Pairing

Carménère is earthy and gamey, savoury and meaty, so it loves lamb, mushrooms and herbs. If you are serving up an herb-crusted rack of lamb or a lamb dish served with mushrooms, Carménère is the wine to reach for. Lamb is tender, and the low tannin element of Carménère won’t overpower the subtle lamb flavours you are seeking out. The black cherry, plum and blackberry flavours do work their way into the lamb and provide a touch of brightness, while the chocolate, coffee and black pepper notes of Carménère add a hint of complexity to the dish.

For similar reasons, Carménère is an excellent wine pairing with Lamb Tagine.

Beef Carne Asada & Carménère Pairing

Carne Asada is grilled beef, that is seared for a wonderful charred flavour that soaks up the smoky and black pepper flavours of Carménère to perfection. Carménère is not a wine for everyone, but it does so well with Beef Carne Asada as it echoes the savoury side of this meal.

Carne Asada may be served as a main meal or as part of a dish like Burritos, Tacos, Quesadillas or tossed on Nachos. I wouldn’t recommend Carménère with Nachos as they are so salty and require wines much higher in acidity to offer some instant refreshment. Carménère is incredible for any Carne Asada Tacos or Burritos containing beans, onion, corn, and bell peppers as the wine’s earthier flavours will mirror those delicious notes.

Tuna Steak With Black Pepper & Carménère Pairing

Tuna is a meaty fish, but it requires a red wine low in tannin to hook up with it. Wines high in tannin will make the tuna taste more like the tin they are often shipped in as the fishy taste will make the wine taste metallic.

Carménère is low enough in tannin to pleasantly hang with a tuna steak with a black pepper crust as it complements the grilled flavours of the meat with its smoky and black pepper undertones. If you’re serving Tuna Kebabs, even better! Carménère loves grilled veggies, especially eggplant, onion, zucchini and bell peppers.

The best way to serve Tuna Steak is with a seared outer crust and a raw middle.  You then thinly slice the flesh and enjoy the contrast between the grilled exterior and subtle sea flavoured inside of the meat.  I’d avoid serving Carménère with raw tuna as it will completely overpower the deliciousness of the delicate flavours.  Instead, serve Carménère with moderately cooked Tuna Steak where the flavour has been somewhat cooked out.

Grilled Chicken & Carménère Pairing

Chicken can often get overwhelmed by red wine, however, Carménère is in that medium-range and low in tannin, so it will play nicely with grilled chicken. As a bonus, Carménère will add its eccentric flavours of smoke, black pepper, raspberry, soy sauce and coffee to the mix, making the plain chicken taste a little more dolled up.

The slightly bitter flavours of Carménère make it a dream with Kale and other dark leafy greens, so if you’re trying to eat healthy, serve up a side of these greens sautéed beside your chicken and enjoy!

Grilled Eggplant and Carménère Pairing

Eggplant is slightly bitter, and so is Carménère. Thus, the eggplant and wine complement one another in this regard. Carménère isn’t rudely bitter, as the wine has a bit of tart sweetness in the fruit, so it comes across more as bittersweet. You’ll also find a lot of smoke and herbaceous notes that complement the grilled flavours of your grilled eggplant. If you are roasting or barbecuing other veggies like zucchini and bell peppers, Carménère will be right at home with those flavours as well, along with any leaner meats like pork, chicken or tuna.