9 Things You Need to Know Before You Wine & Dine Your Way Through South America


It is difficult to dampen a traveler’s enthusiasm for exploring new places and learn about its people, culture, foods and history. The passion for traveling is rooted deeply in a section of the world’s population, who live to travel from one place to another.

South America is one of the many regions in the world that gets a large number of tourists every year. This is not only because of its stunning natural beauty and magnificent historical cities, but also due to its wines and wine tourism to a great extent.

9 Things You Need to Know About South America

Before you set out to explore its wonderful wine regions and exotic dishes, there are a few things that you need to know about South America.

#1. Uruguay – The fourth largest wine producing region in the world

Uruguay is not only the world’s fourth largest wine country, but it has also been producing wine for the past 250 years.

The region is particularly famous for its iconic wine, Tannat, which arrived in Uruguay in the 19th century from Basque country. The region is also popular for its Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, and more.

Uruguay - south america wine tour

#2. Carmenere – Chile’s signature grape

Although Chile is well known for its Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, Carmenere is regarded as its signature grape. Originally grown in Bordeaux, Carmenere thrives in Chile because of the long growing season. The country’s first vineyards were planted in the mid-16th century by Spanish missionaries and Conquistadors.

#3. Argentina – South America’s largest wine producing region

Argentina is South America’s largest wine producing country. It is well known for its Malbecs.

Mendoza, one of the most important wine-producing region in Argentina, also grows high quality Cabernet Sauvignon besides its star white wine Torrontes. Patagonia is one of the newer wine regions in the country and produces exceptional Pinot Noir.

south america wineries

#4. South America’s winemaking history dates back to the 1500s

The winemaking history of South America can be traced back to the 1500s, although it was not as developed back then. Wine was primarily produced for religious purposes. South America didn’t get the push it needed until the 1800s.

#5. Five Best South American Varieties of Wine

  • Malbec: Malbec is South America’s most popular variety of wine, and its rise to fame is quite recent. Not even 20 years ago, no one was interested in this particular variety, not even the French. But ever since Argentina started producing Malbec, it has received the leg-up it needed to become one of the most exceptional wine varieties in the world. Moreover, it is not a one-hit-wonder. You will come across a range of Malbec styles in Argentina.
  • Carmenere: Carmenere was basically brought to Chile from France under the mistaken identity of Merlot. It was planted all over the country and was cultivated as Merlot until ampelographer Jean Michel Boursiquot recognized the French variety in 1994. However, the fruity and herbaceous variety is now widely grown in Chile.
  • Pais: Pais has remained under the line of recognition for centuries until it was re-discovered by winemakers and viticulturists in the last few years. Pais is made by means of ancestral winemaking techniques, which has been at the core of the Pais revival movement.
  • Bonarda: Before Malbec came into the scene, Bonarda was Argentina’s most planted red variety. It suffered a similar fate as Pais, being reduced to cheap table wine. However, Bonarda is now considered an alternative to Malbec and is slowly regaining its popularity. It is to be remembered that Argentine Bonarda is different from the Bonarda grown in Italy.
  • Torrontes: Torrontes, which is mostly a cross between Muscat de Alejandra and Criolla, is the only native grape variety of Argentina that has the capacity to really impress the drinkers. Torrontes has three types San Juanino, Riojano, and Mendocino. It has been nicknamed “the liar” because of its deceiving fruity and floral notes which trick the drinkers into thinking it would be a sweet wine. However, on tasting it turns out bone dry and sometimes a little bitter.

winery south america

#6. Be prepared for some spicy, peppery dishes

If you are visiting Ecuador, be prepared for its unique culinary styles. If you are fond of hot and spicy foods, you’re in luck. The country uses a blend of different spices like coriander, cumin, garlic pepper and achiote to enhance the natural flavors of the foods.

In fact, it is a common practice to serve dishes with chili sauce locally called “aji,” or “picante.” Soups are also a popular option on the menu in the country.

Spicy food south america

#7. The Famous Fish Market in Lima, Peru

The fish market in Lima, Peru, is a fascinating scene with practically anything that lives in the sea being sold in the market on large ice cubes. Giant fish, octopus, live crabs, sea bass, shrimp, mussels, and clams are to name a few. Ceviche is the national dish of Peru.

fish market lima - south america

#8. Brazil grows wine side by side with coffee and chocolate

It may sound a bit strange, but Brazil does grow wine alongside coffee and chocolate. The country has a rapidly growing wine industry, which is concentrated mostly in the southern part of it. It specializes in the production of Chardonnay and Merlot and is more similar to Italian varieties than the New World-style wines.

#9. Beef is King in Argentina

Argentina has come to be known as the beef capital of the world and for well founded reasons. Not only the per capita consumption of beef here is high, you will also find some unimaginably delicious beef preparations. Beef cooked in the unique argentine style has earned accolades all over the world, so much so that it has become a prominent reason why many people consider visiting Argentina.

Beef in south america

There is one more reason why argentina has such a robust culinary scene. The high quality ingredients are available at very low costs. So cooking up a good meal is not a big deal in the country.

South America is a destination that has made a mark with its exotic locales, mouth-watering local cuisines, and unforgettable wines. It has something for every visitor, and promises luxury hospitality and a memorable experience.

If you are planning a trip to any of the South American countries, make sure you explore everything it has to offer, from wine and food, to its stunning tourist destinations.