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grape trees in a vineyard in aconcagua valley in chile
Global cuisine

3 South American wines you haven’t tried (but should)

Apr 26, 2022 by Nick Patterson

The best way to learn about wine? By drinking it, of course. Sip your way through our Food & Wine: Flavors of Chile & Argentina tour and have a glass (or a few) of each South American wine region’s signature sip. Uncover the secrets of winemaking from the locals themselves, and pair each wine with tasty cuisine and good company. Here are the wines from South America and perfect pairings you’ll enjoy on tour or at home, for now. Don’t be shy. Indulgence is encouraged. It’s even considered polite.


Malbec in Argentina

Argentina and Malbec go together like a glass of wine and good conversation. More than 75% of the world’s Malbec comes from Argentina. The vineyards are located high above sea level in the western Andean foothills of Mendoza. Malbec thrives in cool, dry climates and requires good sunlight, making this area a match made in heaven for the grape.

While you’re in Mendoza on tour, you’ll visit three of the most famous wineries in the Luján de Cuyo region. Learn about the area’s winemaking traditions and enjoy a five-course lunch—featuring Malbec, of course. You’ll know you’re sipping on Malbec when the South American red wine’s intense, fruity flavors meet a velvety texture. It pairs well with a rich meal, but it’s also great for sipping solo.

  • Produced in: Mendoza, Argentina
  • Pairs well with: Steak, pork, lamb, beef stew, salmon
  • Tasting notes: Dark fruit flavors, oak, smoky finish

Sip on Malbec on our Argentina tours


Carménère in Chile

Between the Pacific Ocean and the Andes is one of the most famous wine regions in South America, the Aconcagua Valley. What is it famous for? You guessed it—wine. And Carménère is considered the region’s A-lister. Carménère is unique to the country and has a distinct taste (even though it was mistaken for Merlot until 1994). The grapes used in the wine were even thought to be extinct for some time. We think our taste buds can agree that we’re happy it wasn’t.

Like Merlot, its supple red-and-blackberry flavor and herbaceous green peppercorn notes are treasured. On tour, you’ll stop by the Aconcagua Valley to enjoy a traditional Chilean lunch and tasting of South American wine, featuring Carménère. Compare it to the region’s other star varietals, Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon. Is Carménère your favorite? You’re in luck. It’s an excellent choice to pair with everyday dishes like grilled chicken (so yes, you could technically have it with almost every meal).

  • Produced in: Aconcagua Valley, Chile
  • Pairs well with: Tomato-based dishes, roasted meats, lamb, barbecued pork, vegetarian dishes
  • Tasting notes: Spice, red and blackberry flavors, herbaceous green peppercorn

Join us on our Chile tours


Tannat in Uruguay

Still thirsty? Add the Uruguay extension to your tour of Argentina & Chile to quench it. Uruguay is the fourth-largest producer of South American wine and its champion variety, Tannat, represents over a quarter of its production. And champion is literal. Uruguayan wineries have won international awards for making wines with the rare grape.

Travel to the Canelones wine region to visit two family-run wineries called bodegas. You’ll explore the vineyards and hear how the winemaking traditions are passed down from generation to generation. Over wine and cheese tastings (yum), learn how the winemakers put their stamp on the South American wines they create.

  • Produced in: Canelones, Uruguay
  • Pairs well with: Lamb, beef, barbeque, grilled steak
  • Tasting notes: Black plum, raspberry, licorice, spice

Try Tannat on our Uruguay tours

Ready to sip on some South American wine? Come try them on our Food & Wine: Flavors of Chile & Argentina tour

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About the author | Nick Patterson
After one deep breath of the crisp Iceland air, Nick knew travel was for him. He’s been hooked ever since. In his free time, you can find Nick on the golf course playing poorly, getting too worked up about the Celtics and Patriots, or enthusiastically talking about the most recent movie he watched.

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