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Tannat Day: Celebrating 150 years of Uruguay’s flagship grape

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To mark Tannat Day on 14 April, explore the diverse styles and culinary pairings of the unlikely variety that, against the odds, became Uruguay’s signature.

This year, Uruguay celebrates 150 years of mastering Tannat. Though it might seem effortless now, taming the rustic Basque variety – one of the most tannic grapes in the world – was quite the challenge for this small South American country.

Over generations, Uruguayan winemakers have more than risen to that challenge: the great diversity of expressions produced today demonstrates how they have not only mastered this powerful grape, but finessed it into multiple, versatile styles, each worthy of championing.

With some 1,570ha of Tannat planted throughout its wine regions, Uruguay is the world leader in production and quality. Today, there’s more than one face to Uruguayan Tannat, and many styles for wine lovers to try.

As we celebrate Tannat Day this 14 April, take the opportunity to explore Uruguay’s diverse styles of Tannat, paired with the country’s traditional cuisine.

Flame-griiled vegetables

Oaked Tannats’ smoky notes pair well with flame-grilled vegetables

Youthful, juicy reds to channel Uruguay’s Italian heritage

With almost half of all Uruguayans having some Italian ancestry, the country’s cuisine is strongly influenced by that of Italy. The lighter, yet still substantial, national dishes of fresh pasta and juicy milanesa (breaded, fried cutlets) are ideal for pairing with the new wave of unoaked Tannats. Try unoaked expressions from Pablo Fallabrino, Spinoglio, Viña Eden, Bracco Bosca and Viña Progreso, which exude energy and fruit with freshness and verve.

Cooking al fuego with ageworthy, oaked Tannats

In a country where cows outnumber people three to one, there’s no shortage of mouth-watering steaks for the barbecue. Flame-grilling is a daily ritual in Uruguay, and the asado is a point of national pride.

Whether you’re chargrilling steak, chorizo or vegetables al fuego, the smoky char flavours pair perfectly with hearty, oaked Tannats, artfully aged in (usually French) oak barriques or foudres. If you’re planning a special meal, reach for the top wines from Deicas, Garzón, Bouza and Pisano.

Flame-grilled meat with glasses of red wine

Barbecuing meat holds a special place in Uruguayan cuisine

Versatile blends to match the nation’s favourite snack

The humble empanada is one of South America’s most prized culinary inventions, and Uruguay’s empanada criolla can be tweaked and twisted to pair perfectly with a growing range of Tannat blends. Whether it’s Cerro Chapeu’s blend of Tannat with Petit Manseng or Cerro del Toro’s with Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Viognier – or even Gimenez Mendez’s Enigma, made up of 15 different varieties – there’s always an empanada up to the task!

The many faces of rosé, sparkling and sweet Tannat

Uruguay’s Atlantic coastline is a treasure trove of delicious fish and seafood dishes, and there’s a plentiful sea of rosé and sparkling Tannat for surprising and rewarding pairings. Experiment with coastal rosés such as Proyecto Nakkal’s vibrant, fresh pét-nat, or Pisano’s brut nature sparkling red.

For a characterful aperitif, why not raise a glass of Tannat-based vermouth from Vermut Flores? Or, to finish your Tannat Day on a high, delve into the indulgent world of licor de Tannat sweet wines alongside a Martín Fierro (manchego topped with tangy quince paste) or a traditional alfajor biscuit.

Fields of vines with the sea in the background

Cerro del Toro’s hillside vineyards in Maldonado, just kilometres from the Atlantic

Discover more about Uruguay Wine

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