Let’s be honest: when hosting a party, appeasing picky friends can be a daunting task. Sometimes sticking to John Fogerty’s classic song lyric “you can’t please everyone, so you gotta please yourself” is the only useful tactic. Fortunately, when it comes to wine, there’s a grape capable of speaking to both novice and discerning palates and crossing party divides. For the friend who barely knows vintage from varietal, to your co-worker who brags he “only drinks red,” to the Merlot and Cabernet die-hards camped firmly in either Old World versus New World, Carménère (“car-men-nair”) proves a preeminent diplomat. In fact, in its finest form, Carménère blends the sensual appeal of Merlot with the structure of Cabernet Sauvignon, all in one grape. Although it originally hailed from Bordeaux, nowadays Chile definitively claims domain over the variety. Grown from north to south, the array of wines in various prices and styles, share similar features: fragrant red and black berry flavors, herbal brightness and spice, and supple tannins. Thus, Carménère’s delicious versatility helps the conscientious host actually trying to please everyone, meet the drinking needs of thirsty guests.
But what about the dinner table? Finding one wine capable of playing nice with the multiple dishes typical of a holiday feast is also challenging. Again, Carménère proves a problem solver. Its fleshy fruits, fuller body, freshness and tannins allow it to pair nimbly with many autumn and winter foods. Carving a roasted or deep-fried turkey, then smothering it in gravy? Check. Serving tender pork butt as the protein centerpiece instead? Check. Offering sausage stuffing flecked with thyme and oregano? Check. But what about the kale, you ask? Check! Carmenere with sautéed garlicky greens pair well together. So, whether your menu leans towards the traditional or the contemporary, Carménère has got your back. And in these politically uncertain times, reliability, flexibility, and enjoyability are character traits we could all use more of in our family and friends wines.