Merlot from Chile occupies that uneasy spot as the forgotten stepchild of the world wine scene. It doesn't come close to the pretension of France, with its rigorous distilleries and snotty accents. For your more patriotic types, you've got the hippies of Sonoma and Napa out west.

But who's ever heard of wine from Chile? Most of the country is desert and mountains, and considering that Franzia is produced in the United States, chances are that Chile has no place in tomorrow night's shitshow.

So what do you do if you're a sliver of a country on the outskirts of the wine radar with nary a public image out there? Make the cheapest damn wine out there and stick it to the First World! Chilean wines are notorious for making up for their lack of name recognition by bottling lesser quality wines.

Vineyards that are too warm make merlot grapes mature too soon without their characteristic flavor. Also, Chilean vineyards have only recently switched over to the modern equipment that make French and American reds so consistently complex.

What results is a wine with little taste on the front end and an acidic aftertaste. Want something that may actually taste better than diluted vodka and grape juice? Give Chile a decade to catch up, and in the meantime, pony up some cash and buy real wine.


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