Wine, whine, wine

Mendoza Travel Blog

 › entry 28 of 36 › view all entries

The bus ride from Santiago to Mendoza was quite spectacular - up into and through the Andes. We could see the ski lifts from the ski resorts, idling above the dry land (only barely sprinkled with snow). Border crossing was relatively easy, and our bags didn´t even get checked. Tash and I decided 10 blocks was nothing so we walked from the bus terminal in Mendoza to our hostel, Hostel Lagares, which turned out to be a bit of a chore, and this was after we figured out the right direction to walk towards. Halfway along, this guy stopped us and told us that the area we were heading towards was a bit dangerous, especially since we were carrying all our stuff (this was at 3 in the afternoon), and to detour a couple of blocks in, which we did. We eventually made it to the hostel without any problems; it was a nice, simple hostel with friendly staff, although we only ended up staying one night there. We wandered around Mendoza, which is a very pretty place - lots of trees lining the streets, shops and cafés. We had dinner in a restaurant (again, recommended to us by someone from the hostel) where we chowed down on a great salad bar, ribs/steak and wine, for around AU$15 each - bargain!

We´d booked ourselves on a wine tour the next day - this is what tourists do in Mendoza (although I´m certain it has a lot more to offer). A minibus came and picked us up, and everyone else - about 6 Irish girls (one guy), some Argentinians, Brazilians and two English girls. Our first stop was the Lopez winery, a big company and big factory, where we were shown around by an immaculately presented woman. We tried either a white or a red at the end of the tour. The next stop was a small family-run vineyard, where I learnt a little more about wine producing and wine tasting... but I think the only lasting thing I learnt was how to enjoy wine... We tried some reds there, but weren´t too impressed. The third stop was a spirit distillery which was probably the most interesting of all - the guide explained how they make spirits and liquers from raw materials, and we got to try different types (brandy, mandarin, grapefruit and strawberry). I bought a bottle of the grapefruit liquer - at AR$20 (about AU$10 or less), it was another bargain.

Then lunch, which was included in the wine tour price. Everyone was starved by this point, as the wine tour started at 10am and it was around 3pm by the time we made it to the special restaurant. But it was a fantastic lunch: they had laid out all manner of foods on little wooden boards on two long tables: bread, salamis, cheeses, slices of baked potato, pumpkin, salad vegetables, beans and lentils, roasted garlic... and we were fed bruschetta, sausage marinated in mustard and red wine, empanadas, soup, almond ice-cream with dulce de leche and ¨all the wine we could drink¨ (if the waiter was around to refill your glass).

We left for Buenos Aires that night, as we had made an executive decision to spend more time there. Looking back though, Mendoza deserves a lot more than 2 days, and not just to enjoy the wine. (By the way, the ¨whine¨ in the title refers to the supposed whining of some of the Irish girls about the food. They were vegetarian!)

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photo by: montecarlostar