Still a favorite worldwide, this soft-textured, fruity red is extremely easy to drink, food friendly, and versatile, which means it will be around for a long time—despite any movie-inspired tantrums.
This major Bordeaux red grape made its way to Chile in the mid-19th century, but didn’t become truly popular here until the early 1990s. “Chilean Merlot” as it was known, had a unique spicy, green-peppery characteristic that was later discovered to be due to a stowaway in the vineyard. Carmenere, a fellow Bordeaux grape that had long been forgotten in France, was found among the Merlot in 1994.
The vineyards have since been separated and true Merlot appears in nearly every one of Chile’s wine valleys and results in wines that range from fruity and friendly to vibrant and exciting, depending upon where it is planted.