Wine: Smooth start to summer

By
From the June 12, 2014 edition

Either this is the smoothest red I’ve had in a while, or the head cold I’ve had for the past few days is really dulling my senses.

Carmenere is typically softly tannic, with red and black fruit flavors. It’s often used in blends.

This 2012 Anderra carmenere ($10 at Brewer’s Yard Kroger) bottle is 100-percent carmenere and 100 percent matches up with the above characteristics. Although it’s a bit chalky at the start of the sip, it turns out smooth and round, filling your mouth with dark berry flavors and finishing with the slight tongue-tingle of tannins.

The bottle comes from Chile, where the overwhelming majority of carmenere is now grown (side note: How amazing is it to buy a bottle of alcohol from another country for $10, whether it’s this or any other?). The grape was first created in France — which means this wine has really come a long way — but is hardly grown there now after once upon a time losing favor to merlot.

The bottle label explains that the grapes are grown at the foot of the Andes and suggests enjoying it “at a temperature of 60.80 degrees F.” We have never seen a suggested temperature (not to mention one that specific) listed on a bottle, but even at typical room temperature, those are the two ways to play it, it seems: as a somewhat-cooling sip alongside something spiced or as a smooth and easy complement to a taste that’s much the same. It will go well with some simple cookout fare or even after a chocolate-y dessert course.

Just not with a head cold — in the summer, no less! — please.

Photo by Tim Johnson