Carnivor wines: made for meat

Carnivor wines: made for meat

by Great British Chefs 02 July 2020

Carnivor wines are expertly crafted to be enjoyed with meat, but what is it about these wines that works so well with a juicy steak? We delve into the science behind the glass and take a closer look at Carnivor’s award-winning wines.

Great British Chefs is a team of passionate food lovers dedicated to bringing you the latest food stories, news and reviews.

Great British Chefs is a team of passionate food lovers dedicated to bringing you the latest food stories, news and reviews.

The sight of a big, juicy steak – that solid brown crust, a crack of salt, fat glistening in the light – is something that still gets the pulse racing like nothing else in food. Steak has a mystical power to drag something primal out of us. Scientifically speaking, that’s no surprise; the Maillard reaction that takes place when you sear a steak produces a paradise of deep, complex flavour molecules on the surface of the steak – molecules that we are instinctively drawn to. But what always makes a delicious steak even better is a glass of sultry, velvety, perfectly matched red wine to sip alongside it.

Red wine and red meat have always been considered a match made in heaven. Bold, full-bodied red wines are often high in tannins; these are bitter organic substances that come from the grape skins and seeds and give structure to a wine. Tannins are responsible for the astringent, drying sensation on your teeth when you drink wine. On their own they can be a bit intense but, when combined with food high in fat and richness, the two work in perfect harmony. The tannins bring out an extra depth of flavour from the meat, whilst the fats soften and lubricate the astringent tannins, bringing the smooth, fruity flavour of the wine to the fore. Good red wine and red meat become more than the sum of their parts in this sense – they combine into one of our most cherished food experiences.

However, not all red wines are created equal, and it takes a certain type of wine to truly elevate good meat. Carnivor wines fit the bill perfectly, having been produced specifically to enjoy alongside red meat. Each bottle comes bursting with big, bold, brash and rich fruit flavours, all of which complement and contrast with cuts of beef, lamb, pork and game.

Carnivor’s winemakers have turned to the warm climes in California’s Central Valley to craft their wines, with a proportion from the well-known region of Lodi. This valley has always been considered as one of the finest wine-growing parts of California; the climate here is not dissimilar to the Mediterranean, which means grapes can be left on the vines well into summer. This in turn means the grapes have a full season to ripen and mature, building in intensity and flavour before being picked and pressed.

The result? Smooth, bold, intense wines that have scooped multiple awards over the last year. Carnivor’s luscious 2017 Zinfandel won gold medals at both the Mundus Vini and Austrian Wine Challenge, while the 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon was equally successful, also nabbing a gold medal at the Austrian Wine Challenge alongside a top spot at the prestigious Citadelles Du Vin in Bourg, France.

Carnivor’s Zinfandel is a perfect partner to fatty, well-marbled steak cuts like T-bone, or even a piece of roast lamb. Zinfandel grapes (also known as Primitivo grapes in Europe) are famed for their rich blackberry flavour when grown in warm areas like those in and around California's Central Valley, and this wine has a rich blackberry jam flavour, layered with notes of dark cherry, mocha and toasted oak. Carnivor also uses some Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes in the blend, rounding out the flavour but also giving the wine a beautiful rich mouthfeel and lots of tannic structure, which sets it off beautifully against fatty meats.

The Cabernet Sauvignon, meanwhile, is a slightly different beast. Cabernet Sauvignon grapes are renowned for producing rich, full-bodied wines, especially when grown in warmer climates; Carnivor’s Cabernet Sauvignon leans into that classic flavour profile with intense dark fruit and hints of raisin, chocolate, coffee and caramel. It has a smooth, plush mouthfeel, which is nicely rounded by the addition of Petite Syrah grapes – the tannins coat the mouth, but give way to that intense fruit. This wine is equally delicious with fatty meats, but it would be our choice alongside something slightly leaner, like a medium-rare rib-eye or sirloin. This Rib-eye with confit garlic pressed potatoes and baked cheese and onion is a perfect fit!

Whichever bottle you go for, both make perfect partners to dishes centred around luxurious, indulgent cuts of meat. Carnivor’s wines are precisely crafted to be enjoyed in this way, after all. It would be a shame to splurge on an expensive steak or whole joint of lamb, only to taint its flavour with a substandard wine to drink alongside it. And seeing as Carnivor wines are made for meat, a glass or two of its Zinfandel or Cabernet Sauvignon is a pretty safe bet.