The ultimate guide to the best places to drink wine in South America
Unless you’ve spent your entire life living in an isolated wine-free cave (could there be anything worse, we wonder?) you’d be well aware that South America is one of the best wine-producing continents on earth. On a South America tour, you’ll be privy to a host of exceptional wine-tasting excursions, from the most famous vineyards in Argentina and Chile to lesser-known yet equally awesome estates in Peru and Uruguay. Truth is, you’d be hard pressed to find a corner of the continent that doesn’t boast a regional variety of sorts – yes, even down in Patagonia, that magical frigid kingdom where cold-climate grapes thrive with abandon. Between wine-tasting tours and fabulously stocked restaurants, South America really is a wine-lover’s true paradise, a place where a good drop is never too far away.
Here’s your ultimate guide to the best places to drink wine in South America, the most delicious varieties to seek and where best to enjoy them.
Malbec – Mendoza, Argentina
Try Malbec in the vineyards of Mendoza on this wine tasting tour.
The crown jewel of the Mendoza region, Malbec can easily be regarded as Argentina’s poster wine-making child: the most famous and velvety drop of them all. This pioneering grape has been grown here since it was first imported from France, over a century and a half ago. Like so many South American varieties, it is a by-product of imported skills and seeds, combined with fertile soils that produce unique tastes. Argentina nowadays produces over 70% of the world’s Malbecs and, although you’ve no doubt tried it elsewhere, little compares to sipping it in its home turf. Mendoza is home to a plethora of exceptional vineyards you can visit on your South America travel, some of which also offer B&B options for a truly immersive, wine-tasting travel experience.
Torrontes – Cafayate, Argentina
Enjoy amazing views of Cafayate with a glass of great Torrentes wine. Click here to learn more.
Cast your eyes on the dramatic high-altitude landscape of Salta, in northwest Argentina, and you’d be forgiven for thinking growing vines here would be near-impossible. Alas, where everyone else sees obstacles, Argentinians only see possibilities. A crop that’s native to South America, Torrontes thrives on the warm Salta climate and is by far one of the most complex wines you could ever taste – sweet to the smell but quite dry to the palate. The Cafayate Wine Region boasts an eclectic array of vineyards you can visit to try Torrontes (along with Malbec, of course, as well as an array of other varieties) among them are some of the oldest in the continent and the highest on earth. Pin Bodega Colomé on your map and, alongside great wine tasting, you can also soak up the absolute natural splendours of this remote and spellbinding region.
Tannat – Canelones, Uruguay
Visit Canelones for the opportunity to taste original Tannat on our tour to Uruguay.
Our New Zealand and Australian guests really get a kick out of Uruguay’s Tannat as it’s one of the richest reds in the continent, closer to the kind of full-bodied Shiraz we’re used to savouring slowly, back home. Bloomberg aptly named it ‘the ultimate big red wine for steak’ so you’ll probably get a fair idea about this no-nonsense drop of superb flavour. Various blend varieties make Tannat a wonderful option for those who wish to try a slightly less-powerful drop. Given that Uruguay is the unsung culinary hero in South America, maker of some of the best beef and wine in the continent, a fantastic all-day feasting here is definitely in order. The Canelones wine-making region is right outside resplendent Montevideo, so it’s super easy to include in a comprehensive, multi-country South America tour.
Carignan – Maule Valley, Chile
If you like exclusive wines, try the rare Carignan on our Chile tour.
Chile is a wine-making powerhouse, revered for its world-class varieties of Cab Sav, Merlot, Cabernet, Malbec and Pinot. Yet if you’re looking for something truly special, then you ought to point your nose towards a hard-to-find bottle of Carignan. Strong enough to give Tannat a run for its tannins, Carignan is one of the rarest wines in the country – one that’s pesky to grow, resulting in a much smaller production. If you’re keen to try it, however, your South America tour guide will sniff out a top spot. We have an inkling they would not mind one bit! Funnily enough, Carignan was France’s premier drop in the 19th century yet despite its incredible history, it kind of fell into oblivion. That is, until a recent re-emergence in Chile. This very distinctive red wine may not be to everyone’s liking but, in our books, that’s a prime reason to try it on your South America travel.
Espumante – Serra Gaucha, Brazil
After a week of horseback adventure, relax with tasty Espumante and beautiful vineyard views. Learn about this tour here.
Better known for its addictive grain-based liquor from which caipirinhas are made, Brazil is actually a pretty wicked wine-producing nation to boot, not surprising given the colossal immigrant population of the 19th and 20th centuries. Many Italians and Germans settled in the relatively low mountainous areas of Rio Grande do Sul, where you’ll taste not only amazing wines but also an eclectic cuisine that’s a blend of old and new. Serra Gaucha is undoubtedly one of the least-known wine-making regions in all of South America and that’s prime reason to visit. Our favourite drop to savour here is just about anything with bubbles, the region revered for its incredible sparkling varieties of all sorts. Espumante – the local variety of Italy’s spumante – comes in at least two dozen varieties. Visiting a vineyard in the Serra Gaucha is a phenomenal culinary experience, with vineyards tucked among some of the most delightful fertile hills in all of South America. Bento Goncalves, the region’s capital, is just over an hour’s quick flight from Rio, and very easy to include on your South America wine-tasting tour.
Wine-tasting on South America Tours with Viva Expeditions
We love wine and really love South America, which is why we offer some of the most comprehensive, off-the-beaten-path travel experiences of all. Knowing the continent and its wine-making secrets means you’ll get an extraordinary glimpse into lesser-known regions of whichever country you wish to visit. On all South America tours, you’ll have plenty of free time to explore and visit vineyards on your own but we also endeavour to include unforgettable culinary discoveries with each and every meal.
Contact us, right here, to know more.