The summer heat is sweltering in parts of Chile, which means that locals reach for one of the simplest and cheapest alcoholic refreshments available, melon con vino, a melon with wine, or Melvin affectionately. This popular drink is the quintessential summer necessity in Chile, and luckily it is not only easy to make, but also delicious.
Originating in Spain, the drink became widely popular in Chile and Argentina due to ease of preparation and wide-availability of wine, and melons. It has become so popular in Chile that it is considered one of its national drinks, along with the terremoto.
In 2012, a national melon con vino day was actually created, not officially, but rather through a grassroots effort of a Facebook group that suggested meeting in a park every January 15 with melons and wine. The event has continued on and is growing in popularity with every year.
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How do Chileans drink it?
Melon con vino, due to its reputation as the “commoners drink,” is quite unique in that it is not commonly found or consumed in restaurants or bars, as are the pisco sour or terremoto. Instead, this drink is reserved for family or friend gatherings at home, at the park or beach (note: drinking in public places, while illegal, is still common).
Its simple preparation makes it easy to pack for a picnic or camping trip. Honeydew melons are in season during the summer months, so the drink is quite seasonal in nature. Since the wine is drunk directly out of the melon it is often passed around from person to person as a sort of peace pipe of comradeship on a hot summer’s day. So, for those passing through Chile, if you don’t find it on any menu, don’t despair, pick up the three key ingredients and try to make it yourself, the Chilean way.
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How to make Melon con Vino?
This drink is one of the simplest things possible, making it almost fool-proof even for the least skilled in mixology. There are only three main ingredients for the more basic, or traditional preparation.
- a honeydew melon (melon tuna in Spanish)
- a bottle of white wine (avoid distinctive or strong tasting wine as it will overpower the melon, stick with the low-shelf brands on this one)
- 2-3 tablespoons of sugar (preferably powdered, but granulated will work)
- ice (optional, if wine was not frozen or chilled)
- pisco, Fernet, or rum (optional, only for the adventurous)
- chill both the melon and the wine beforehand if possible, if not you will need ice
- cut a hole on the top of the melon, around 7-10 centimeters in diameter and put it aside for later use as a lid
- scrape out the seeds and some of the fruit using a spoon, taking care not to scrape too much and leaving some of the melon pieces loosely inside
- pour in the white wine, filling almost to the rim
- stir in the sugar, depending on taste
- add a touch of pisco, Fernet or rum if you are feeling up to it (optional)
- add ice or refrigerate until use
- grab some straws and share with your summer companions
Born in Ukraine but raised in Canada since a young age, Kateryna Kurdyuk has since acquired a Masters of Media Studies and Communication from University of Melbourne in Australia and worked in the education field in Dubai, UAE. While currently working as an English Professor in Santiago, Chile, Kateryna is using her extensive experience living and travelling abroad to contribute as a writer to the emerging independent English-language media in Chile.