This story originally appeared in the Napa Valley Register.
For many wine enthusiasts, picking wine for the holiday table is one of utmost importance. Once the meat, stuffing, potatoes, green beans and pumpkin pie are prepared, the question is what to drink with the meal.
Classic choices for red wines are pinot noir, Beaujolais or grenache, but as Thanksgiving approaches, perhaps the perfect wine for your holiday dinner should be carménère. In fact, Nov. 24 also marks International Carménère Day honoring the 22nd anniversary of the rebirth of the grape.
Carménère is a grape variety that was one of the original blending grapes in Bordeaux, France. Thanks to phylloxera in the late 1800s, the vineyards were destroyed and it was thought that the grape was extinct.
Meanwhile, Chile had transported some grapes from France and was busily producing an herbaceous red wine that they called “Chilean merlot.” Then 22 years ago, in 1994, on Thanksgiving, a French DNA specialist identified the Chilean merlot as the rare Bordeaux grape carménère. With the understanding of the true identity of the grape, the Chileans readjusted their treatment of the grape. Instead of picking early, as they had been doing, they let the grape reach ripeness by harvesting late.