Now that Argentina is becoming a more popular tourism destination wineries are beginning to offer specialized services as well as the classic vineyard and barrel room tours to cater for more than 1.2m tourists annually. The plan is to make each sip a truly unforgettable experience.
Among these new services, food is the most attractive and sought after by visitors. From the North to the South of the country, there are more than fifty wineries with their own restaurants, and the food on offer can range from simple tapas and picadas to more sophisticated cuisine. Whichever you choose, all of them are ideal to turn every sip of wine into a memorable experience.
Nine out of ten bodega restaurants can be found in Mendoza. This number is in line with the role that the province has played in the local industry. Among the pioneers, Bodega Escorihuela with its legendary 1884 Restaurant, opened in 1996 by the renowned Argentine chef, Francis Mallmann. His steaks, grilled or cooked in the clay oven, are ideal when paired with the reds of Mendoza. Another well known eatery can be found in the winery of Familia Zuccardi. La Casa del Visitante opened in 2004, and is an informal and cozy restaurant that takes advantage of Cuyano flavours with a nine course menu. Based on the success of the first one, Pan & Oliva, the second restaurant in the same winery, bases its cuisine around its other specialty, olive oil.
In the Valle de Uco, Killka in Salentein, is a visitor center with a museum of contemporary art and a busy restaurant offering a simple and tasty cuisine, ideal for recharging your batteries before continuing with the tour.
Restaurants which offer a charming gourmet experience together with wines produced by the host winery are always attractive to tourists. Also those which make use of the excellent products of the province: beef, goat or lamb, trout and tasty fruits and vegetables. Many have tasting menus with several courses, where each dish is paired with a wine. For example, in Perdriel, Patricia Suarez Roggerone has developed a varied menu with the true flavours of Mendoza, in La Vid Restaurant at Bodega Norton.
Nearby, in Lujan de Cuyo, Entre Fuegos in Bodega Lagarde offers recipes produced with different Cuyana techniques using embers. Just thirty minutes away in Agrelo is a kind of gastronomic center of wineries with a dozen options. Among these, el Maria in Bodega Septima, with its lounge facing the Cordon del Plata, and Osadía de Crear in Dominio del Plata, which offers one of the most complex menus of the province produced by Jose Cacciavillani. For something more original there is Bistro Chandon where the menu is accompanied by sparkling wines.
This trend of visiting winery restaurants is growing thanks to the number of oenophiles entering the country and ready to tour the wine routes. Among the novelties and just minutes from the centre is Abrasado, the first restaurant in Mendoza specializing in dry aged beef, and can be found inside Bodega Los Toneles. Casarena is another winery with its own restaurant, in this case with a modern concept of both flavours and aesthetics. In its salon are L-shaped tables for diners to enjoy their meals while facing the mountains. Espacio Monteviejo is a recently opened restaurant located within Clos de los Siete in the Uco Valley and features a detailed menu of its wines and an imposing view of the Cordillera.
Satisfying the palates of visitors is not only a concern in Mendoza. Both in Patagonia and the northwest of Argentina there are wineries with gastronomic offerings that highlight regional flavours and great wines.
In Cafayate, the epicenter of viticulture in Salta, Bodega El Esteco in addition to a top-end restaurant offers luxury hospitality in hotel Patios de Cafayate. The kitchen is run by a team of local chefs who focus on products and typical recipes of the northwest, like empanadas, sausages and goats cheese, snacks that go well with a chilled, sparkling Torrontes.
Meats are often cooked in casseroles and prepared to a Criollo recipe and are best paired with deep spirited reds like Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec or Tannat. For dessert, the classic quesillo con dulce de cayote (cheese with sweet cayote) walnuts and molasses, a delicacy that goes perfectly with late harvest Torrontés. If one takes the road towards Yacochuya, you will find Piatelli, the newest winery in the Calchaqui Valley. This modern bodega features a spacious restaurant and is located on one of the terraces of the valley. The menu specializes in regional products and grilled meats.
1,700km away in the Patagonian vineyards of San Patricio del Chañar, some of its more modern wineries have restaurants worth visiting after the tour and tasting is done. Among the wineries in Neuquen which focus on gastronomy, Familia Schroeder stands out with its restaurant Saurus. In this luxurious spot, Ezequiel Gonzalez has designed a menu of various courses with products like goat, lamb and turkey, along with fruits and vegetables from the area which are ideal with house wines.
A few minutes away Bodega NQN has a more relaxed approach, Malma Resto Bar. The kitchen is the responsibility of chef Pablo Buzzo, a specialist in lamb dishes whose flavours seek to capitalize on the Malbec, Merlot and Pinot Noir from the winery.
As you can see, the diversity of flavours in Argentina can be experienced beyond the wine glass. These chefs, cooks and sommeliers are ready to satisfy the most demanding of palates with unforgettable dining experiences. An irresistible pairing that millions of visitors enjoy every year.