In the 16th century the Spanish Conquistadors conquistadored their way through Chile, such was their want. When not conquistadoring they shared the gift of Catholicism with the previously happy natives. No more guilt free masturbation or lazy Sunday mornings for those chaps after that! But they also brought useful stuff with them too, stuff like the Vitis Vinifera. I know that sounds like a tome of interesting musings and pontifications by some late Pope or other but it's not, it is in fact a grape variety.
"Wonderful!", said the locals, or at least words to that effect and off they popped to make wine for their new masters.
Many years later, the mid eighteenth century to be sort of precise, French wine varietals such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot were introduced into the mix.
"Super fantastic wonderful!", exclaimed the locals, or something like that, who had become weary and a little bored with knocking out the same old plonk for the last couple of hundred years.
Wine making sort of flourished in Chile from Aconcagua in the north to the Bio Bio valley in the south. It was all bit local though and never really enjoyed a lot of success, financially or even taste wise. They struggled to break into the American and European markets and were generally laughed at by the French.
"You call dis vin? Dis ees not fit for a dog! Go away little funny person and take your reeediculous pan pipes and ponchos weef you.", said a mocking and snooty Pierre whilst supping a bloated and over hyped Beaujolais.
But in the 1980's some smart cookie or other arrived with stainless steel fermentation tanks and oak barrels for aging.
"Get in ye girl ye, we are on the pig's back now! We shall sell our wines all over the Americas!", said one farmer, Miguel I think he was called.
"No sir, you are wrong!" Came the terse response from another, I believe his name was Christóbal.
[If you can read this next bit with a Spanishy sort of accent that really would help. Think Antonio Banderas]
Looking far off over the ocean he continued with, "We shall sell our wines all over the known world. From the Americas to bothersome little hamlets and townships of Ireland. Wherever happy people gather to eat and drink or even just lonely people writing on their computers in their bedrooms they shall drink the wine of Chile, in particular our Merlot which is rather pleasant with lamb and some cheeses too, but that is not important right now. Miguel we must think big!"
And think big they did, so big in fact that Chilean wine is now the fifth largest exporter of wine to the US. In total the Chilean wine industry is worth close to a billion dollars a year, which is nice. Chilean wine is highly regarded too and has scooped many many awards over the years. It's all a far cry from the days of the Conquistadors and the red pishy gloop they called wine.
Now Miguel and Christóbal live in mansions but they often think back to those days of struggle when they couldn't make enough money from wine to buy even a second hand pan pipe let alone a mansion.
"We have travelled far my friend Miguel. From the dirt to the heavens and it is all thanks to our wine.", says Christóbal on a regular basis. The story of Chilean wine is a story of conquest and false dawns of hardship and the laughter of the French and in the end triumph over adversity.
So when you ask me for a bottle of diet coke to mix with your £18 bottle of Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon you are not just pissing me off you are pissing, literally, on the efforts of the good people of the Chilean wine industry. I don't give a tiny rats ass if the do it in Spain and call it calimocho, I don't care. It's wrong. You are wrong. The Spanish are wrong. Constantly. I mean just look at the silly little beard on Fat Rafa Benitez.
It was all I could do not to stab the fucker in the face with the still blood stained stabbing fork.