Don't go overboard with this — no need to dust off the decanter — but this week's wine, Cono Sur Cabernet Sauvignon/Carmenere (about $12 at wine savvy markets), is one that will benefit from being opened a half-hour or so before dinner.
The Cono Sur nonvintage blend is made of organically grown grapes from Chile's Southern Cone (Cono Sur). Carmenere, which recently has become one of our favorite grapes, reaches its full potential in the South American vineyards where it has become a staple. It lends this wine a deep ruby color and a soft, aromatic, herbal character. Cabernet sauvignon grapes intensify that color, add their tannins for structure and depth and give an edge to flavors of dark fruits and figs, currants and maybe even a hint of mulberry. The cab's tannins also contribute to a lingering dry finish.
If you sniff this wine immediately after pulling the cork, you'll be disappointed. Definitely on the anemic side. But if you let it stand a while before pouring, the aroma of this wine tells a different story. Then, in addition to aromas of those dark fruits and figs that open on the tongue, you'll detect spice notes and even a hint of leather, all of which adds up to a much more accurate olfactory preview of this wine's performance in the glass.
What to eat with this medium-bodied red? Red meats, for sure, and other hearty winter fare, and maybe a good artisanal cheddar.
By Colette and John Bancroft. She is the Times' book editor, and he is a freelance writer specializing in food, wine and travel.