Vinexpo: guest article

Why Uruguay is one of the most exciting wine countries in South America

By Amanda Barnes, wine journalist

- Last updated on GMT

Vineyards of Bodega Garzon, a winery in Uruguay. Picture: Bodega Garzon
Vineyards of Bodega Garzon, a winery in Uruguay. Picture: Bodega Garzon

Related tags Wine

Uruguay is no doubt a small wine country. The human population is outnumbered four to one by cows and Uruguay produces less wine than Japan. Although it might be dwarfed by nearby wine countries Argentina and Chile in size and production, there are many reasons why Uruguay is one of the most exciting wine countries in South America.

A progressive, liberal and modern nation, Uruguay was a pioneer in legalizing cannabis and is on its way to becoming the first wine country to offer complete traceability on 100% of its wines.

In 2018 every bottle will carry a QR code which you can scan to reveal the source of the wine right down to its soil type and vineyard parcel number.

Uruguay made its big splash on the world wine scene with Tannat - a tannic, deeply colored variety that was only ever considered a blending component by most wine producers.

Uruguay’s producers instead tamed the variety, making it their champion and offering unique, savoury red wines with an ageability that puts Barolo to shame.

Tannat can take you on a journey through Uruguay with each wine region offering a different expression of the variety. But Uruguay’s production isn’t just limited to this feisty red wine (although it is undeniably the best partner for their renowned steak).

Today producers are showing off the diversity offered by their Atlantic maritime climate and producing stellar Albariño, Riesling and Pinot Noir among other varieties.


On a map you may well overlook Uruguay’s diminutive size, but its wines are eye-catching and command attention.

Amanda Barnes (pictured right) is an award-winning wine journalist who specializes in South American wine. She writes at

Hear more about Uruguay wine:

Amanda Barnes will be hosting a series of talks and tastings on Uruguayan wine at Vinexpo in Bordeaux from June 18 to 21 each day at 11.30am, at the Wines of Uruguay pavilion at Hall 1 BC255.

Pre-register for the following tastings by emailing

  • The depth and diversity of Uruguayan Tannat ​- Sunday 18th June
    A guided tasting through the diverse styles of Tannat (including the world’s only sparkling red Tannat) being produced in new and traditional regions around the country.
  • Uruguay's Most Prized ​- Monday 19th June
    Taste through some of the country’s top award-winning wines and see what all the hype is about in this educative tasting which includes the two Platinum Medal winners from this year’s Decanter World Wine Awards.
  • Beyond Tannat: Uruguay's other exciting varieties ​- Tuesday 20th June
    Learn about the history of Uruguayan wine and discover the different wine varieties that are gaining popularity today through this guided tasting around Uruguay’s wine regions.
  • Ten things you didn’t know about Uruguay ​- Wednesday 21st June
    If you are just beginning to get to grips with this small South American wine country, come along to this short seminar on the interesting wine history and culture of Uruguay and the latest industry developments including the country’s ambitious wine traceability scheme.

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