Chilean Holiday Special: Wine

Time to celebrate 18 September.
Time to celebrate 18 September.

First things first, what is the big deal with 18th September in Chile?

For anyone new to Chile, the Fiestas Patrías come as quite a surprise. This is the biggest holiday in the Chilean calendar – apart from New Year – and many people use it as an excuse to take up to a week’s holiday and to show a sudden burst of national fervour.  Flags go up everywhere, people hang red, white and blue bunting all over their homes and start dancing Chile’s national dance, the cueca or listening to their choice of Chilean music.  But most of all, people eat, drink and get very, very merry.

On 18 September 1810, the First Assembly of the Government gathered to proclaim autonomy from Spain, the first step along the road to making Chile an independent country. This is the date on which Chile celebrate its independence each year. On 19 September, Chile celebrates the Glories of the Chilean Army.  So this is a double public holiday, which is sometimes extended by an extra day to make a long weekend.

Much-loved choripanes (sausages in bread rolls)
Much-loved choripanes (sausages in bread rolls)
Barbecue
Barbecue
Classic fare for 18 September: red meat and salad.
Classic fare for 18 September: red meat and salad.

I asked a number of friends what they considered to be a great way of celebrating the 18th of September. It was interesting to see how varied the results were. Some people prefer to go out to organized events, one person voted for street parties, while for other people, it’s all about a relaxed barbecue with family and friends. Everyone does agree about one thing: that it’s a time to eat and drink till you drop.

Food

This is robust food with lots of red meat, bread with pebre and salads.  This weekend I had a marathon cooking session with friend and neighbour Loreto Fuchslocher Arancibia and you can check out the following recipes:

Happy Fiestas Patrias!
Happy Fiestas Patrias!

Wine

Any red wine with good tannins will be fine with a barbecue, so you could opt for Carménère, Syrah, Malbec, Cabernet Franc or Carignan, to name but a few.  However, the most popular wine for 18th September is Cabernet Sauvignon, so my suggestions are for that variety.

Ventisquero Grey Cabernet Sauvignon 2012

Intense purple. A lovely nose; vanilla and cedar and just bursting with ripe fruit – cassis, blueberries, plums. Put me in mind of blackberry and apple pie. A nice, chewy wine with lovely ripe tannins, high acidity and a long finish. Great for a nice chunk of red meat.

Miguel Torres Las Mulas Cabernet Sauvignon 2014, Central Valley

Shy on opening, a touch of spice with blackcurrants and other fruits. Very pleasant and well-rounded in the mouth.  This was the wine we paired with the homemade bread, pebre and sausages we made during our epic cooking session to check the recipes for this guide and it went down very nicely.

Apaltagua Signature Cabernet Sauvignon 2012, Maipo

This is a lean, elegant and powerful Cabernet Sauvignon with notes of fennel and liquorice in amongst the fruit. High acidity, nicely balanced body, good length. Would work well with a highly flavoured meat dish, such as lamb or game.

Koyle Royale Cabernet Sauvignon 2011

Intense, fruit first, then the spices (vanilla, cinnamon, a touch of menthol). Lovely mouthfeel, tooth-coating tannins, pleasant acidity, very fresh.

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