Did you know that tango was invented in Uruguay? It’s one of the many things that Uruguayans could boast about but generally don’t, much like their wine. Which is what makes Uruguay one of South America’s best kept wine secrets.
Uruguay is the second smallest country in South America, a similar size to Missouri, but it is the fourth biggest wine producer on the continent with 20,000 acres of vines and has been making wine since the 1800s. Production hasn’t changed much over the last 200 years in that Uruguay retains a real farm to table philosophy and most of its wine producers are small growers and boutique family wineries. Uruguayans also love to drink wine (they drink more wine per capita than any other country outside of Europe – almost triple the amount consumed per capita in the US) and so it is only recently that Uruguay’s wines have started being exported.
But the secret is out, and Uruguay is definitely one to watch.
With an incredible diversity of over 99 soil types, there are many profiles of wines to discover in Uruguay – from the rich clay and Bordeaux-like climate in Canelones, to the granite outcrops and cool coast of Maldonado, or the Mediterranean climate and sandy soils of central Uruguay, wine regions are spread all over the country and offer a playground for winemakers.
Tannat is Uruguay’s most planted and famous variety – a feisty red wine that is perfect to pair with the local specialty of grilled steak. However with so many different families producing wine we find a huge range of varieties and styles including Albariño, zesty Sauvignon Blanc, hedonistic Riesling, linear Arneis and voluptuous Chardonnay, and in the red camp we find fruity Pinot, spicy Cabernet, bold Nebbiolo, juicy Syrah and Uruguay even produces its own Zinfandel.
Be sure to join Amanda Barnes for a Wine Education Session on Uruguay wine at the Wine Bloggers Conference in Walla Walla, WA on Thursday, October 4th at 3:30 pm!