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French Grapes Across Continents: #Winophiles Preview and a Carménère + Carne Asada Pairing


This month, I am hosting the French Winophiles as we look at French grape varieties that are cultivated and made into wines somewhere other than France. You can read my invitation here.

If you are reading this early enough, feel free to jump in on our live Twitter chat on Saturday, September 17th at 8am Pacific time. Follow the hashtag #Winophiles and be sure to add that to anything you tweet so we can see it.

Here's the line-up of the articles for the event - French Grapes that Crossed Continents...

A Carménère + Carne Asada Pairing

To whet your palate for our topic, I am sharing a little bit about a Carménère and Carne Asada pairing that I tried in preparation. Carménère is a red wine grape variety originally planted in the Médoc region of Bordeaux, France; it was typically used to blend and produce deep red wines. But it crossed the ocean and it now is grown widely in Chile.

Most Carménère wines boast aromas of red berries and have layers of peppercorn and wet granite. I find it similar in weight and texture to Merlots. This one, from Veramonte, retails for less than $15 and it from the Colchagua Valley in Chile.

Veramonte is located in Casablanca and adheres to organic practices throughout the entire estate. One of the first to cultivate in the valley, they are committed to ensuring their vineyards are sustainable and express the nuances of the terroir.

The wine poured an inky purple with a reddish rim. On the nose there were red berries, as expected, along with sometime herbaceous and a hint of chocolate. On the palate, the wine was medium-bodied with the flavor of tart raspberries and the bittersweet tones of cocoa powder or raw kale.

At first whiff, the wine had me longing for a rich, buttery, and juicy steak. I decided to marinate and grill a skirt steak. 'Carne asada' literally translates to 'grilled meat' and, at its most basic, it can be nothing more than a steak, seasoned with salt and pepper, cooked over a hot fire. But I like to marinate mine overnight and cook it on a scorching hot grill...or grill pan on the stove. My marinade has a lot of ingredients, you can simplify if you like. It's sort of a riff on the Crying Tiger with the saltiness of fish sauce, umami from soy sauce, tartness of citrus, and the heat from canned adobo peppers. 


  • 2 whole chipotle peppers, canned in adobo
  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed citrus juice (I used a combination of oranges and limes)
  • 1 Tablespoon each olive oil, soy sauce, and fish sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon honey or maple syrup
  • 1 small bunch cilantro, leaves and tender stems only, divided
  • 6 medium cloves garlic
  • salt and pepper as needed
  • 2 pound skirt steak|
  • Also needed: grill or grill pan, tortillas, pico de gallo*, and sour cream for serving 

*I have shared Peach Pico de Gallo, Pineapple Pico de Gallo, and an Apple Pico de Gallo. For this dinner, though, I made a basic tomato pico de gallo.


Add chipotle peppers, juice, olive oil, soy sauce, fish sauce, honey or maple syrup, cilantro, and garlic in a blender of food processor. Blend until a smooth sauce has formed, approximately 1 minute. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Place the skirt steak into lidded container and pour the marinade over the top. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours or up to overnight.

When you are ready to cook, bring the container our and let it come to room temperature while your grill heats. Cook, turning occasionally, until the meat is well-charred on the outside, approximately 5 minutes on each side total.

Transfer to a cutting board and allow to rest for 5 minutes. Slice thinly against the grain and serve immediately with tortillas,pico de gallo, and sour cream on the side.


I also served elotes, spiced corn on the cob, alongside my carne asada soft tacos.

I hope this starts you thinking about French grapes that are grown elsewhere in the world...and possible food pairings. Join us this weekend!


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