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My View: Pride and Prejudice - The British view of Chilean wine

Published:  18 January, 2007

Pride and Prejudice - you may think it odd that Jane Austen's celebrated romantic novel would fascinate me. Or you might wonder what stories about social stereotyping have got to do with Chilean wine.

But it was the title that got me thinking. Pride is an integral part of the Chilean character. They are justifiably proud of their country, their heritage and, of course, their wines.

There has been a seismic shift in the quality and diversity of Chile's wines, and the quest for better vineyard locations, often in more marginal areas, promises greater delights ahead.

However, the British wine trade, and its consumers, is still riven with prejudice. It clearly enjoys its flirtations, even full-blown affairs, with New World seducers.

But deep down it still suspects that New World wines lack the pedigree, sophistication, and class of their European cousins.

Yet prejudice is born out of hypocrisy and ignorance, and the great challenge for Chile - and one that I am proud to suggest is already being tackled - is to build the trust of British trade and consumers alike.

In turn, the trade must show courage and give more shelf space and wine-list exposure to Chile's increasingly eclectic and dynamic wines: these Chileans will not let you down.

I take comfort in the knowledge that, despite everything, Austen's Elizabeth Bennet finally understands and respects Darcy, and their love is eventually consummated gloriously.

Michael Cox, UK director, Wines of Chile