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Last Updated on July 29, 2021
Chile is a beautiful country famous for its gorgeous landscapes, welcoming people, excellent food, and outstanding wines. While it is true that over the past 30 years Chilean wine industry had explosive growth, actually, the first grapevines were planted as early as the 1500s by European immigrants. Nowadays, the Chilean wine industry is famous for its diversity and bold, world-class red grapes, which can be seen in many wine auctions.
Below, you will find everything every wine lover has to know about Chilean wine. You can read about the history of the Chilean wine industry, key grape varieties, the most popular wine regions, and many more. So read on and be ready to take a trip south.
A Brief History of Chilean Wine
The history of the Chilean wine industry began in the 1500s when Europeans first planted grapevines. While it took some time for the wine industry to become established, it was not until the mid-1800s that the wine industry really began to expand and flourish.
Over time, Chileans started to experiment with a variety of different red grape varieties. By experimenting, they were able to develop an excellent understanding of how each grape variety would perform in different regions of the country.
Today, Chilean wine exports have increased dramatically due to their high quality and incredible diversity. In fact, over 90% of Chile’s wine exports are now consumed outside of Chile. Some of the most popular countries that import Chilean wine include France (39%), United States (15%), United Kingdom (10%), Germany (9%), Australia (5%), among others.
Even though Chile still exports a large percentage of its wines outside of Chile, it has also managed to increase its domestic consumption tremendously. In fact, in 2017 alone, Chilean consumption reached over 15 million cases or approximately 125 million liters of wine!
Although there is still a long way to go before Chilean wine can compete with other countries such as France or Italy in terms of consumption or exports, it will be interesting to see how much it grows over the next few decades.
Chilean Wine Regions
Although you might think that Chilean wines are only made in one region or area of the country, you would be very wrong. The truth is, there are actually nine different regions where wine can be produced in Chile.
There are five main regions where most of Chile’s most well-known wines are produced: Maipo Valley, Rapel Valley, Curicó Valley, Coquimbo Valley, and Central Valley. Within these five main regions, there are dozens of smaller areas called “subregions” where specific types of grapes can be grown depending on the climate.
How Does Chilean Wine Differ From Other Varieties?
If you are new to Chilean wine, you might think it tastes just like a variety of other wines from the same region. Although it is true that many of the grapes grown in Chile are the same as those grown in Argentina, France, or any other wine-producing country, there are a few very noticeable differences.
The main difference is that many Chilean wines are made using a cold fermentation technique, which is different from the traditional method of fermentation that many other countries use.
In fact, many winemakers believe that this cold fermentation process makes their wines smoother and more aromatic. This is one of the reasons why more and more winemakers all over the world are starting to use this technique as well.
Because of their unique growing conditions and location, Chilean varietals tend to be much more aromatic than other wines. In fact, Chile’s higher altitudes can help grapes develop better qualities than grapes from lower altitude regions.
Because of these unique growing conditions, most of the world’s top wine experts agree that Chilean wines are some of the finest and most flavorful available on the market today. And, fortunately, the world is starting to see that – the popularity of Chilean wine is growing pretty fast.
What Types of Wine Are Made in Chile?
Although Chilean wines are made using many different red grape varieties, there is one widely known variety known around the world: Carmenere. This grape variety was first planted in Chile in 1851 and has since become a staple in the Chilean wine industry.
These grapes are grown in cooler climate regions with rocky soil and high altitudes. While this grape variety is best known for its red wine production, it can also be used to make rosé and white wines as well. So if you are a wine connoisseur or collector, this grape variety should definitely be on your radar.
Other popular grape varieties that are often used to make Chilean wines are Cabernet Sauvignon, Pais, and Merlot.
If you haven’t tried Chilean wine, you are missing out. Chile has some of the finest wines in the world and can compete with any other country in terms of quality. The best part is that its popularity is growing exponentially around the world – both in taste and quality.
Rather than buying your next bottle of wine from a grocery store, seriously consider trying a bottle of Chilean wine. You will not regret it. In fact, once you try it, you will wonder why you waited so long to make the switch.