South America

This Chilean Wine has a Chinese Label

Let me tell you a story from my annual Oscar Party (I know, I know, the Oscars were weeks ago! Forgive me.): My friend brought over two reds from Chile, but the labels were in Chinese! Well, maybe Chinese, maybe Korean, but for sure Asian characters, and my money’s on Chinese.

She bought the wine, a 2012 Sapphire Merlot, at a grocery store in LA called Jons, which is known for international fare. I feel like the wine could have had the funky label–fit with a female Anime character–because Jons caters to an Asian and Latino population, but more likely, the language-specific bottles were residuals from imports to China.

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Imports of foreign wine into China have been on the rise since the early 2000s, but at the beginning of the year, import tariffs on Chilean wine were lifted in mainland China, which further underscores why this Chilean wine most likely had a Chinese label. Imports from Chile jumped by 37% in volume in 2013 and in the firs nine month of 2014, increased by 50% in volume, according to DecanterChina.com.

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So with that economics lesson taken care of, let’s get into how this wine tasted.

My reaction: “I don’t hate it.”
My friend who brought the wine: “I’m not offended.”

The truth is the Merlot didn’t taste like much. It was pretty plain, flat had soft tannins, and emitted little smell. It kind of just exists there in your glass. We all thought it would make for a good Sangria base or maybe a reduction for a marinara. But I must say my other half tried marinating some steak with leftovers of this wine’s Cabernet Sauvignon cousin and the result wasn’t pretty–too grapey and not smokey enough.

That said, we did finish off a whole bottle of the Merlot that night, so it was easy to glug.

Nuts and Bolts

Winery: Sapphire
Type: Merlot
Origin: Central Valley, Chile
Price: Unknown
Alcohol content: 13%
When to drink: I’d skip this unless you want to buy the wine for the novelty of the Chinese label.