Mendoza, where wine is cheaper than water

“When in Mendoza, you really only need to know two words in Spanish: vino, y más. ‘Wine’, and ‘more’. Put them together, and you’re all set: más vino!”

This little phrase, courtesy of our wine tasting tour guide, pretty much sums up our trip to the wine capital of South America. Nat and I spent a whirlwind 48 hours in Mendoza and we made the most of every minute and every drop of wine.

We flew out of Buenos Aires at the ungodly hour of 4:00am. This resulted in pretty much no sleep the night before since we got to the airport at around 2:00am. Luckily, Dionysus (or someone up there) smiled upon us and blessed both of us with completely empty rows in an otherwise jam-packed plane. It seemed too good to be true and it would be just my luck to have been scammed into buy three seats after misinterpreting the Spanish ticketing website. But no matter, the two of us were immediately horizontal and slept during the hour-long flight to Mendoza.

Upon arriving, we cabbed through town to the Chill Inn Hostel in the city center. It was the first time staying in a hostel for both of us and we didn’t really know what to expect. We were greeted by a shaggy night manager who showed us to our dorm. We were pleasantly surprised to see a little alcove with a bunkbed just for the two of us. After a quick power nap, we were ready to take on Mendoza. Overall 10/10 would recommend the hostel vibes.

Mendoza is an autumn city with plazas lined with beautiful trees and boulevards covered by canopies of fall colors. We walked around the city centre for a couple of hours admiring what Nat dubbed “tree porn” in anticipation of the main event: our wine tour.

In Argentina, and several other wine obsessed countries, wine can literally be cheaper than bottled water. For just 400 pesos each (25USD), we had managed to book ourselves a tour of three bodegas (wineries) with an olive oil factory thrown in as well. As we sat on the bus with people from other hostels around the city, we saw the landscape change from urban to rural with vast fields of grapes on all sides. Unfortunately, everything was rather skeletal due to the time of year. I can only imagine what the vines looked like at the peak of bloom.

At every bodega, we were given the option of going on the tour in Spanish or English. Never ones to back down from a challenge, Nat and I opted for the Spanish tour. After all, the language of wine is universal, no? At the first tasting, we were given generous douses of intense and full-bodied Malbec, oaky cabernet sauvignon, and smooth shiraz. Nat, being the champ that she is, pretty much neglected the little bucket they provided for excess wine. I however did not, seeing as we still had two more bodegas to go!

At the second winery, we were treated to a selection of desert wines. There were a couple of sparkling varieties, a particularly feisty moscato, and a couple of rosés. I honestly couldn’t tell you too much about each variety. We had persisted with the Spanish tour and I struggled with comprehension what with the wine buzz and the sleep deprivation.

Luckily, our third stop was an extremely strategically timed visit to an olive oil and balsamic vinegar factory. God! I think I could survive off of good bread, oil, and vinegar for the rest of my life. I shamelessly scarfed down our samples and single-handedly demolished a plate of olive oil soaked sun-dried tomatoes. Carbo loaded, I was ready for our fourth and final stop.

At our last stop, we were treated to some white Torrontés in addition to the standard Malbec. It was the perfect dry and fruity wine to round of our Mendoza wine experience. Now, I’m typing all this as though I actually know quite a bit about wine and as though I haven’t been chugging bagged sauvignon blanc out of cardboard boxes for the past two years of college. But this isn’t all BS. Our guides did do a very good job explaining the different types of wine to us and I do have a better understand of what makes a wine dry instead of light, oaky instead of fruity.

Regardless of taste though, a red wine, be it bagged sangria or high-end Malbec, is enough to put me to sleep. I KO’d on the bus back to the hostel and had a profound siesta before Nat and I went out into the city in search of tacos (we wanted Mexican, ok?!). As we sat there shovelling down guacamole, we reflected on how much we had managed to accomplish in just our first day here: we did a full city tour, took a couple of power naps, ate my weight in olive oil and sun-dried tomatoes, and sipped on countless glasses of wine.

“¡Salud!” we said as we clinked our glasses together. Alas, they were filled with overpriced water since we wisely determined that we were wine-ed out for the day. Not only were we completely satisfied with our day, we were also proud of the fact that we had gotten through it mishap free. Here’s to doing Mendoza right!

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