Renowned for its red wines, one might assume that Chile’s summer months revolve around pitchers of traditional, fruit-filled red sangria. But the South American country’s mild Mediterranean climate also yields renowned examples of grape varieties like Sauvignon Blanc, and one of its most popular warm-weather beverages is based not in red wines, but white.
Melón con vino, or “melon with wine,” consists of chilled white wine poured into a hollowed-out honeydew melon and mixed with powdered sugar. The drink is meant to be shared, with guests adding straws to the melon, which is passed around so everyone can sip. A common sight at celebrations, picnics, backyard barbecues or days at the beach, the drink originally hails from Spain, but it has become a staple in Chile and parts of central Argentina.
“Melón con vino is part of a larger tradition referred to as the cultura guachaca, which celebrates a certain kind of Chilean-ness which harkens back to the connection we have with the countryside and our rural culture,” says Pilar Hernandez, creator of the Chilean cooking blog, En Mi Cocina Hoy, and co-author of the cookbook, The Chilean Kitchen. The book highlights melon con vino as a quintessential Chilean cocktail. “Chilean culture prioritizes shared experiences, and drinking this communal drink reaffirms the bonds you have with the people you share your melón con vino with.”
Affectionately known as “Melvin,” a mash-up of “melón” and “vino,” the drink is so popular that Herman Villagrán Valero and José Morgado Páez, the creators of Chilean beverage culture blog Rayuela Corta, created a day in its honor. Melón con Vino Day falls on January 15, at the height of summer in the Southern Hemisphere.
“These types of celebrations rescue the roots of Chile,” said Villagrán Valero to Chilean newspaper El Observador. “Melón con vino is in the memory of the Chilean.”
Melvins are portable and shareable, which makes them the perfect companion for joyful reunions with friends and family, summer days and much-needed time outdoors.
“It is highly seasonal and inexpensive to prepare,” says Eileen Smith, co-author of The Chilean Kitchen. She recommends honeydew that’s very ripe and fragrant and, if enjoying outdoors, to bring along an ice-filled cooler to keep the ingredients cold.
- 1 honeydew melon
- 1 (750ml) bottle dry white wine, like Sauvignon Blanc
- 3–4 tablespoons powdered sugar
Refrigerate melon and wine overnight. To prepare, slice small piece of rind off melon’s bottom, about ¼ inch thick, to create flat base.
Cut hole in top of melon 3–4 inches in diameter. With large spoon, scoop out seeds and flesh to hollow out melon. Return about half of melon chunks inside. Reserve remaining fruit for refills. Pour chilled wine into melon shell, and sprinkle with powdered sugar. Use straw to punch down mixture, and allow sugar to dissolve. Add more sugar, to taste.
Refill with chilled wine and remaining melon chunks as needed. Add ice if wine gets too warm.
If desired, do as many Chileans do: Opt for boxed wine so there’s more to go around.