The Centenary Secret Is Out: Brazil’s Wine Is a Head-Turner

Brazil's Miolo wine label Not too long ago, the words Brazilian and wine would hardly be out together without a stern warning against a horrible hangover. Such a notion stemmed from the fact that many wines from that country,  which has also brought us caipirinhas and rodÀ­zio churrascarias,  were mostly inexpensively-priced, mass-produced table wines that could only be found around ethnic communities for the consumption of homesick Brazilians.

Not that decent wine did not exist in there. It simply had not been made available for the general public. After all, Brazilians are not exactly known for their preference to fermented grapes, and much less for export.

Carefully made wines have existed in Brazil's southern region for over a century, where Italian and Portuguese immigrants began creating their own vintages in small, family-based business over a century ago.

However, the resulting product  was mostly available to restaurants or to a small niche of consumers in boutique wine shops, and almost none of that production was sold abroad.

That began to change about ten years ago, when Brazilian winemakers – well aware of the success their competitors in Argentina and Chile were having abroad  – began heavily investing in equipment and personnel specifically with these previously untapped (at least for them) markets in mind.

The process to make these high-end wines available in the US markets began with the  churrascarias (barbecue) restaurants here, which began importing these wines around 2002 and including them on their wine lists with moderate success.

"We began to notice this, and saw that there was a great opportunity at hand,"  Atlanta-based importer Gelson Cardoso told us. "We realized that we could have a chance to compete in price and quality with Chile and Argentina, beginning with the restaurants and now we are reaching out to the American consumers."

"Brazil has both the capacity and the technology to compete with our neighbors in Latin America," Cardoso states, "and I believe that soon we will be at the same popularity level that they have today."

Turning Brazilian wine into an accepted commodity is not an easy task; Cardoso believes that the only way is by hosting tasting sessions like the series recently held in New York and Chicago.

"There is no other way to do it than bringing it to the public," he says. "We have the support of the government (through APEX, their export agency), but the best way is to have people taste and discover our quality themselves."

Andreia Gentilini Milan of The Brazilian Wine Institute in Rio Grande do Sul also recognizes it will be an uphill battle to build the reputation of Brazilian wines.

"This negative image that we see results mostly because of the kind of product that is widely found in the market back home and from what immigrants here have seen over the years," she said over an interview conducted at a recent seminar in New York. "[We believe] this will not be the case abroad, since the country only began exporting quality wines in the year 2000."

"We are offering a new product that is different from the table wines previously found in Brazilian supermarkets," Milan explains. "Table wines have a large market in Brazil and around the Brazilian communities abroad, but this is not the kind of product we are focusing on for export – we are bringing our best product and placing them at high-end restaurants and stores, and we are doing seminars to explain how our production works."

Among the various wines showcased at a recent tasting at a couple of Brazilian government-sponsored trade events in New York and Chicago, one variety worth checking out is Salton Cabernet Sauvignon (average price US$ 13) – thanks to its very light structure, it goes quite well lightly chilled and is an alternative to rosé over a picnic.

Miolo's Pinot Noir  (average price US$ 15) has more complexities to its nose and overall flavor, but is nevertheless food-friendly, which is a general characteristic of the wines from that country.

Although Brazil has a wide range of wineries making quality wine, only a handful – among them Miolo and Salton – are widely available in the U.S. market today, but it is just a matter of time until  other brands find an importer that will help them find their way to the city's shelves.

Ernest Barteldes is a freelance writer based on Staten Island, New York. This article appeared originally in The Brasilians. He can be reached at


  • Show Comments (9)

  • Stepan Baghdassarian

    PIZZATO Wines are award winning wines from Brazil
    Rio Joeˢ۪s Brands, Inc. is the importer of the award winning PIZZATO Wines from Vale dos Vinhedos, the premier wine-growing appellation of Brazil (state of Rio Grande do Sul). PIZZATO Wines have won number of awards from various prestigious organizations and media in the United States, Europe and Brazil. PIZZATO Wines are available in a number of states in the U.S.

    The PIZZATO line of wines includes the

    PIZZATO Reserve Wines (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay, Tannat and Egiodola)
    Concentus, a proprietary red blend made only top vintage years, and
    Fausto by PIZZATO (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and RosÀƒ©).


  • Falupa

    Brazilian Wine
    I thought Brazilian wine was somewhat decent. Most Brazilian wines tend to be very sweet as well. I think Brazil can produce some of the best wine in the market right now. Producing quality grapes is very important and Brazil has the right climate.

  • Ernest Barteldes

    On the comments
    As you can expect, a bigot like Ch. C could have nothing good to say about Brazil. It seems like somebody from Brazil screwed him over, and he uses this space to seek some kind of sick revenge.

    Back to the point: Brazil competes with wines from Chile and Argentina, who both produce quality wine that is also affordable. Any wine expert will tell you that the price of the bottle does not necessarily represent the quality of the wine itself — it’s just branding most of the time. Of course, Brazil has a lot of work to do, and this new attempt to enter the
    international market is highly laudable.

    I hope that readers here can keep an open mind about this.

  • ch.c.

    PIZZATO Wines !
    Stepan Baghdassarian is….. from Rio Joe’s Brands, Inc. !
    I did not know that retailers could promote FREE BY THEMSELVES their products…HERE !!!!!

    But well done…. Stepan ! At least you have the marketing imagination I applaude !

    😉 😉

  • ch.c.

    Doggy Daddy
    then say it to the USATRANNY….A BEER JUNKIE ! And of course…CHEAP BEERS !
    Real Idiots and Total ignorants are sure to know better than less idiots and less ignorants.
    In Vaud and Valais they have good white wines. No doubt !


  • Doggy Daddy

    Wine from Vevey
    Ch.c,…here here…. have lived in Vevey and had some very fine wines from the region.

  • ch.c.

    “Neither are the so called swiss wines in the top list !”
    Have we said we have a Centenary secret……dear idiot ??????

    This said, our wines do participate in Blind Tasting Contests, and I bet we won more medals that Brazil !!!!
    Another proof that junkies like you dont even know what you are talking about.

    1) Swiss wines are mostly drunk locally by a prosperous, wine loving nation. Prices have always been high.
    2) The tradition of wine and viticulture in Switzerland is very old, since at least the Roman era.
    3) Since the time of Julius Caesar the Swiss have been quietly cultivating their grapevines with their usual care and precision. Centuries of Swiss know-how and love of the land go into making Switzerland one of today’s most exciting emerging wine venues.
    4) the Swiss each drink about 20 litres of their own and some 30 litres of imported wine a year.

    Conclusions :
    – should we then say that we have a TWO MILLENIUMS SECRET ? I bet this is what Brazilians would have said…if that would have been the case !
    – are our wines as bad….as you pretend ?
    . not only we consume most of our wines, meaning nearly zero available for exports, but we even import more than what we produce. Therefore we can make the difference better than others…LIKE YOU !
    – I bet that on a per capita basis, we produce more than the country where your SMALL AND FLUFFY penis is born !

    Last but not least,
    – no doubt that the only superiorty idiots like you can TRY to show is their APPARENT male superiority and sign….USAMALE !!!! Typical of an IMPOTENT DUMBASS !!!!
    – It remains you know nothing abour wines since I bet you are a BEER ADDICTED…WITH A HUGE AND FLUFFY BELLY !
    – And certainly not a wine amateur……wayyyyyyy too expensive for your small balls purse !

    Therefore let me keep….LAUGHING…LAUGHING…LAUGHING AND…..LAUGHING !!!!

    You have Nooo idea how stupid you are…with your “NAME” !!!! You could not even seduce a monkey or an old grand mother !
    But may be your male attributes could fill a goat or a sheep !


    Grapes are grown nearly the world over. Wines are produced nearly the world over. Even in Tunisia, Thailand, Turkey, China, Nicaragua, Ecuador, etc etc…… on top of the better known wine producing countries.
    The question remains….as to the quality, not decided by nationalism and chauvinism, but by independant wines experts from different countries.
    But feel free to be nationalist and chauvinist. That still wont help your wines sales

    Neither are the so called swiss wines in the top list. Gosh Ch.c. I bet you’re a gay who have been beaten many times when you were in Brazil, or you just a silly figure who wants to prove himself here while he can’t outside the real world. 😀 😉 😀 😉 😀 😉 😀 ;-)..

  • ch.c.

    The Centenary Secret Is Out: Brazil’s Wine Is a Head-Turner

    Wines retailing for US$ 13- to 15.- are Common Wines. Not….HEAD TURNERS in any way. But a real wine amateur can TURN HIS HEAD….to say politely…NO MORE THANKS…after tasting ! smiles

    If there is a Centenary Brazilian wine secret, quite funny that the wine is so cheap.

    Stupid question : what is the rating given to these “Head-Turners Brazilians wines” by the World Wines Experts ?????
    Of course…NOT A WORD ! and it is better like that !

    Once more, Brazil caress its navel, and dont even put the quantity of bottles produced overall or the ones that are exported.

    And to Falupa :
    Grapes are grown nearly the world over. Wines are produced nearly the world over. Even in Tunisia, Thailand, Turkey, China, Nicaragua, Ecuador, etc etc…… on top of the better known wine producing countries.
    The question remains….as to the quality, not decided by nationalism and chauvinism, but by independant wines experts from different countries.
    But feel free to be nationalist and chauvinist. That still wont help your wines sales !

    😀 😉

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