Its wines may not be nearly as famous as those of its neighbor, Argentina; nor does it produce anywhere close to the volume of vino as does Chile for export. Nevertheless, wines from Uruguay definitely hold their own. The national varietal of choice is often tannat. But do not discount the local versions of Cabernet, Merlot, Sauvignon blanc and even Chardonnay.

Tannat, of course, is the big winner. Deep yet smooth, the various Tannat wineries dotted across the country produce bottles that remind the palette of berries and plums. They pair nicely with Uruguay’s unparalleled beef or a the local cheeses available at the markets. I’d get my wrist slapped for saying this, but a couple times I even downed some Tannat with fish while I spent much time there a few years back.

The grape is native to the Madiran region of France, but the vines took off after Basque immigrants brought vines to Uruguay in the 19th century. Depending on the source cited, anywhere from one-third to 40 percent of all wine produced in the country is Tannat; now more of the varietal is made in Uruguay than it its native home.

So it’s exciting to see Tannat become recognized globally, whether by trade magazines or travel writers. If you happen to visit Uruguay, do not hesitate to crack open a bottle one evening - or many nights. The country’s wine country is starting to develop, and some national chains such as Bevmo sometimes have great brands, including Bodega Garzón.

Image credit: Flickr

About The Author

Leon Kaye

Leon Kaye is the founder and editor of Based in California, he specializes in social media consulting and strategic communications. A journalist and writer since 2009, his work has appeared on Triple Pundit , The Guardian's Sustainable Business site and has appeared on Inhabitat and Earth911. His focus is making the business case for sustainability and corporate social responsibility. Areas of interest include the <a Middle East, sustainable development in The Balkans, Brazil and Korea. He was a new media journalism fellow at the International Reporting Project, for which he covered child survival in India during February 2013. Contact him at You can also reach out via Twitter (Leon Kaye) and Instagram (GreenGoPost). Since 2013, he has spent much of his time in Abu Dhabi, UAE, working with Masdar, the emirate's renewable energy company. He lives in Fresno, California.