You are finally planning the wine tours of your dream in South America, but can’t quite decide between Chile and Argentina. Both countries are well-known for their fantastic vineyards, breathtaking landscapes, and rich cultures. So what exactly sets them apart?
In this post, you’ll find out a lot more about Chile and Argentina to help you decide which country will be best for your dream tour.
Chile and Argentina: The Wines
Perhaps the most essential question to begin with is what kind of wine do you prefer?
Argentina is renowned for their Malbecs, which tend to be smooth and rich. Chilean Malbecs, by comparison, are sharp and acidic. But both can be fantastic, depending on your personal preferences.
Chile has the upper hand in the Cabernet department. Chilean Cabs are notable in that each region produces slightly different varieties due to the country’s geography. Chilean Cabs are similar to Bordeaux, with strong, fruit-forward qualities. Argentine Cabs are of an earthier, spicier variety.
Pinot Noir grapes thrive in the cool Chilean climate, and some juicy, natural acidic Pinots can be found in the San Antonio and Leyda areas. Casablanca offers notable Pinots with dark fruit notes and vegetal touches.
Argentina is home to the unique Torrontés variety, a white grape that produces smooth floral and tropical-tasting wines. You won’t find any other country that exports Torrontés, so be sure to stock up!
Meanwhile, Chile is home to the great red varietal Carmenere, which is not unlike a Cabernet Franc. Carmenere is a Bordeaux style grape that was thought to no longer exist since it was wiped out by the Phylloxera disease in France many years ago. For many years, Carmenere was thought to be Merlot. Fortunately, when some French migrated to Chile, they brought their Carmenere planting.
Chile and Argentina: The Wineries
Both countries have a plethora of notable, unique, and exceptional wine varieties. As far as wines go, your palate will undoubtedly have a flavorful experience. However, a great wine tour is as much about the setting and location as it is about the wine varieties themselves.
Chilean wineries tend to have on-site accommodation, lending themselves to wonderful and romantic retreats from civilization. Few things are as memorable as being woken in the morning by sun peeking into your room through the grapevines.
Argentina lends itself to chic and authentic hotels that offer winery tours and usually cover more ground. Argentina winery tours tend to be more formal and generally include food at the end of the tour and is a fantastic choice for exploring more than one winery in a day but you probably won’t have time for more than three. This offers you a great chance to get a real sense of everything Argentina has to offer.
Chile and Argentina: The Geography
Chile’s landscape offers breathtaking coastal and mountainous views. The topography of Chile makes for a silky fog that rolls in, and intertwines with the grapevines. The lush fog may make you think you’re back in Sonoma County.Argentina is the eighth largest country in the world, and its climates reflect that fact. Argentina is home to climates ranging from desert to warm mediterranean, all the way to tundra. Argentina is also home for wine lovers and considered as one of the world’s highest commercial vineyards, at approximately 9,800 feet above sea level.
If you’re looking for adventure beyond your wine tour, then the shared area of Patagonia is a must-have for your itinerary. Los Glaciares National Park in Argentina provides a breathtaking view of the expansive 2600 kilometers of ice fields that are home to nearly 50 glaciers.
Chilean Patagonia offers a wetter, greener, more hikeable landscape. In Torres del Paine National Park, there are three colossal rock towers, (called “paine,” which means “horns”), that offer stunning views.
Chile – Atacama Desert
The Atacama Desert in Chile is a 105,000 square kilometer desert, and holds the title as the world’s driest desert. Some weather stations there have never recorded rain.
The soil is so sterile that it’s similar to what would be found on Mars. Notably, because the desert is one of the few places on Earth with 300+ clear sky days a year, and no light pollution, it is home to the world’s largest ground telescope.
Argentina – Puna
The Argentine Puna is a region of varied landscapes ranging from wet/moist areas to dry areas, and a desert. The wet Puna is high grasslands offering gorgeous lakes and snow covered mountains. The dry Puna offers savannas and tropical shrubs, as well as salt flats and even volcanoes.
Chile and Argentina: The Culture
Chile’s more homogeneous population mirrors the geographic isolation of the country. It has a heavy mix of colonial Spanish and indigenous culture.
The folk music and dance styles of Chile differ from North to South due to the different indigenous peoples and Europeans that have settled the areas.
The national dance of Chile is a transformation of the Spanish fandango, known as the Cueca. The Cueca is a fun dance meant to mimic the courting ritual of a rooster and hen, making for the lively display of an enthusiastic male eagerly attempting to gain a female’s favor.
If you’re a seafood lover, then Chile is the place for you. Because the country has such a long coastline, you will find a vast array of Chilean seafood cuisines, offering many unique species of fish, mollusks, and crustaceans.
Argentina’s culture is as diverse as its landscape, composed of a wide mix of ethnic groups. The most notable influences come from Spain and Italy, and to a lesser degree Africa, especially in art and music.
Argentina is a fantastic place to visit if you’re keen on working on your tango skills. The same diverse ethnic groups that poured into Argentina created the tango as a fusion of various influences including the Cuban habanera, the Slavic polka, and Italian folk. Tango first arose in Buenos Aires, but is now known throughout the world.
As for cuisine, no other dish properly matches the national identity of Argentina than that of asado, or Argentine barbecue. Argentinians love their beef, and it shows in the absolutely best ways. Asado, as well as steak and beef ribs are staples of Argentina, typically eaten with the wonderful chimichurri, a sauce made of herbs, garlic, and vinegar.
Still Can’t Decide?
Have you reached this far and still can’t seem to decide between Argentina and Chile for your wine tour? Both countries have wonderful wines, beautiful landscapes, and rich cultures. So ultimately, it depends on what you want to have included in your trip. If you can’t make a decision, it just means you’ll have to visit both!
Chile is great to visit from late February to early May, as it is when the vendimias, or grape harvest, occurs. There are many festivals full of grape-stomping, art fairs, and music during this time.
Meanwhile, Argentina is great to visit during its spring, from September to November, as the weather will be perfect just about everywhere. If you are planning a trip to Argentina you must take a look at our planning trip section where we offer some exquisite Wine Tour