With Argentina wines continuing to win international applause, Buenos Aires has come to unearth the creative potential of degustación (wine tasting) with more and more tours of the city’s wine bars and original spaces
It was the Europeans who first brought wine to Argentina as far back as the 16th century when Spanish explorers cultivated the original vineyards from cuttings, and the South American country is now returning the favour with soaring ever increasing exports of fine wine.
Argentina wines have been lauded as the ‘next big thing’ by wine industry experts; in 2011, the country was bestowed with more Wine of the Year awards than anywhere else in the world by the influential Decanter magazine.
European varietals such as the ubiquitous Malbec from the Mendoza region, Pinot Noirs from Patagonia and Argentina’s only own white grape Torrontés from the Salta region among the most renowned wines on the international stage.
And, with wine being recently pronounced as the national drink of Argentina, the country is fully embracing its love for fermented grapes both abroad and at home – where typical wine tours of rural regions such as Cafayate, are now being accompanied by urban wine tasting in Buenos Aires.
Argentina’s capital is already heavily influenced by Europeans, with characteristics including the fading colonial architecture, an expressive arts culture and innovative cuisine leading to the city sometimes being referred to as the ‘Paris of South America’.
Wine tasting Buenos Aires style usually takes visitors to various bodegas and chic wine bars in interesting neighbourhoods across the city, including the fashionable districts of Palermo and Soho, together with a local sommelier to guide tours, which are often accompanied by pairings with local cuisine.
Vegetarians aside, there are few better ways to enjoy the full-bodied, dark fruit and spicy flavours of an Argentinian Malbec than with a succulent cut of the country’s famed steak – while the floral, aromatic Torrontés variety perfectly complements local and regional dishes such as the ubiquituous empanadas and the northern specialty, tamales.
Wine tasting in Buenos Aires also takes place in the city’s old, traditional bars where the vino de la casa (house wine) is served from pingüinos (penguin-shaped pitchers) as part of a custom believed to have been brought over from Italy that became popular with locals in the 1920s and 1930s. Here, drinks are often accompanied by siphon bottles of soda water, which can be added to wine for instantly refreshing spritzers.
But, wine tasting in Buenos Aires is only one of many unique opportunities that this vibrant metropolis has to offer.
History and architecture enthusiasts can wander the city to marvel at traditional grand French and Italian style palaces or the modern regeneration buildings of the Puerto Madero waterfront.
There’s the opportunity to visit the narrow Caminito walkway, which is said to have inspired the music for the famous tango, or tussle with traffic at 9 de Julio – the widest avenue in the world.
By night the city comes alive, with various districts offering different attractions that run into the early hours: Palermo features bars and clubs with more upmarket establishments found in the neighbourhood of Las Cañitas; Retiro is scattered with hip nightlife; Almagro is the preferred haunt for watching tango; and San Telmo’s Avenue Caseros is a hub for food enthusiasts – Argentina was designated the Ibero-American Capital of Gastronomy in 2017.
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