Argentine Wine: Grocery Store Picks
The best part of living in Buenos Aires?
Here at BuenosTours, we feel that outstanding wine is one of the biggest perks of living in Buenos Aires! Vino (wine in Spanish) is a part of daily life in Argentina; often mixed with soda (sparkling water) or even Coke, it’s a staple at the Sunday family asado and the Friday night gathering alike. The country produces a variety of choices at affordable prices, and a sizable selection is always available at the “Chino”, aka the local grocery store (“Chino” meaning Chinese store, since most are run by Asian immigrants. Yes, Argentines can be pretty politically incorrect at times).
For a more professional opinion and better quality, boutique wines, we recommend that you try a wine tasting with our friends at Anuva Wines. But to find out what we here at BuenosTours are drinking, read on…
BuenosTours local wine recommendations
After an arduous sampling period, The BuenosTours Staff presents our picks of Vino from the Chino (drumroll please!). From Malbec to Torrontés, look for these bottles at your corner store and sip your way through Argentina’s lovely harvests!
Alan: Tour guide to the rich and famous, CEO of BuenosTours, and yet he still sometimes adds soda to his wine!
My chino wine faves are Santa Julia and Portillo, all in the mid-to-high twenties range. As a fan of the Pinot Noir varietal, I appreciate Almas Moras’s sense of humor: they call it “Pinot Negro” (negro meaning black in Spanish) rather than sticking to the French name. It’s not always easy to find Pinot Noir in Argentina, but the aforementioned by Finca Las Moras is affordable (about $28 pesos at my local chino), and in a slightly higher price range, Alamos offers a really nice version.
I do NOT recommend Romani’s Malbec – the worst bottle I’ve had in years! Beautiful label, but don’t be fooled by that. It was overly acidic and had a nasty aftertaste. Avoid.
Isabel: On-location neighborhood reporter, city cyclist and San Lorenzo die hard!
My favourites are:
- Gascón malbec (about $35 – $40 a bottle). Really tasty, good with an asado.
- Emilia (especially the Malbec/Bonarda mix, about $35 a bottle). Very light and nice to drink with snacks rather than a heavy meal.
I also like:
- Elementos – it is often on offer and it’s tasty, good mid-week wine. I remember it was $12 in the Chino on the corner in Boedo where I used to live. Now it would be more like $25… I like the Cabernet.
- Postales de Fin del Mundo – about $25 a bottle, maybe a bit more, well as we know the prices probably increased in the time it took to write this recommendation… This bodega has won all kinds of international awards.
- And if I am in a rush and strapped for cash, I would grab a Callia (Syrah/Malbec blend) or San Telmo is often on offer and a safe bet.
Quincy: Espresso connoisseur and Argentine lingo lover.
Probably my favorite, the Alma Mora malbec is an assertive, mid-range wine that literally means Blackberry Soul. It’s from San Juan – a region who often sends grapes to neighboring Mendoza to be blended into bigger wineries’ varietals. But Las Moras proudly produces San Juanino wine, and since my boyfriend’s family is from there, Alma Mora fills me with nostalgia.
Quara is an affordable fave. A llama graces the label in homage to that peaceful creature essential to the Incas. Torrontés, a white, grows exceptionally well in Cafayate, where Quara is from. While Argentina is most famous for its Malbecs, Torrontes is actually considered the only 100% Argentine wine. Also try the Cafayate bodega’s Torrontes.
On a forgiving budget? Try San Felipe’s Tempranillo. And when splurging for a special occasion, go for the fragrant San Felicien.
Oliver: Boisterous tour guide, comedian and BA actor!
I pick a wine at the ‘Chino’ the same way I do anywhere else in the world. I decide on a price range, for example around us$5, and look for wines in that range that other people have bought, by looking for wines where you have to reach back onto the shelf. I figure that random strangers are better at picking wines than I am!
***Oliver, a true man of the people. Looks like the rest of the team will be in charge when picking the wine at our next meeting!***
Pat: Red-meat correspondent and all-American sports fan!
My picks are…..
- Uxmal (Malbec): Has kind of a smoky finish, goes well with meat. Also about 32 pesos at my Chino.
- Latitud 33 (Malbec): Nice, smooth red. Again, in the low-30 peso range. Good for a night cap.
- Colón (Syrah or Malbec): Solid, peoples-wine, and good for 20 pesos. Good for a drink before you go out.
Jessica: In-demand tour guide and soulful San Telmo crooner!
Callia is always my cheap red go-to bottle, Malbec or Syrah.
A little nicer, Finca Flichman makes pretty good Malbec and Cabernet at good prices, and they’re aged in oak (roble) which most cheap wines aren’t. Way better with food than on its own.
Also, a wildcard, I like white wine, and I have found NO GOOD WHITE WINE IN CHINOS for under 40 pesos (any suggestions?). Except for of course my summer favorite – sweet white! Late harvest! It may be girly, but don’t underestimate the Norton Cosecha Tardia Dulce Natural. Ice cold. On a terraza (terrace). At sunset. Mmmmmm…
As far as things to avoid… if I have a dinner party, please do not bring Michel Torino or Valderrobles. It’s offensive. On second thought, it’s more offensive to come empty handed, so I guess if you do bring them, you’ll just have to drink them alone because I’d rather have a coca light.
Ahh, so many vinos, so little time! Keep the aforementioned in mind when in need of some thirst slakers. And let us know: what wine do you pick up when you head to the Chino?
For more information on Argentine wines, WineSur is a great resource, and features wine reviews by international critics. Or check out this article on the history of wine in Argentina at The Real Argentina.