There are few places in the world as amazing as Argentina. I went on a wonderful two week trip there, and one of the major highlights was a romantic weekend trip to Mendoza with my husband. Mendoza is Argentina’s wine producing region, where the dominate grape is Malbec. Malbec wine is rich, deep purple wine with luscious berry notes. Mendoza produces 75% of the world’s Malbecs, so this is the place to sample it! My husband and I took full advantage, and organized our trip around food and wine.
Where to Stay: Posada El Encuentro. This charming bed and breakfast is run by three brothers and one sister. It is located in a cheerful little neighborhood called Chacras de Coria. Downtown Mendoza is a few miles away. The advantage of this location is that you can easily walk to restaurants and get around without having to take a taxi everywhere. The bed and breakfast itself is simple, clean, and quiet. Breakfast is included, and offers such as chauffeured wine tasting tours are very reasonably priced.
What to Do: If you are going to have only one weekend in Mendoza… Drink wine!! You can bike to the wineries, but most are pretty far apart and the terrain is hilly, so I would recommend hiring a driver. Here are the three best wineries we went to:
Bodega Roberto Bonfanti: This delightful, family-run winery is the perfect spot to experience the wonders of Argentinian wine and hospitality. The Malbecs produced by Bonfanti are impeccable; dark and fruit forward with bursts of blackberry and plum. One of the owners will give you a detailed tour and tasting, and the passion that the family has for wine and wine-making will endear both the family and the winery to you. Bonifanti wines are only distributed in New York, so enjoy as much as you can while you are in Argentina! They also make wonderful olive oil, which you can sample as well.
Belasco de Baquedano: This grand winery is in some ways the opposite of Bonifanti, so it is a great way to get a sense of the different kinds of wineries they have in Mendoza. The view of the mountains from the massive estate is a sight you won’t ever forget. The winery has a tasting lounge to sample wines, as well as a restaurant where you can indulge in a decadent wine-paired meal. The wines they produce are exceptionally bold and fragrant. Especially notable about this winery is their aroma room, where you can blind smell dozens of scents. It is one of only four in the world.
Bodega Ceccin: This rustic vineyard produces several different kinds of organic Malbec, which means their technique of wine production is geared towards protecting the environment. They offer tours, tastings, and lunch as well in their casual restaurant.
Where to Eat: As I am sure you know, Argentina is famous for their food, largely because of their Italian heritage. Gorgeous, housemade pastas, decadent sauces, delicious breads and fresh salads are all in abundance. Of course, there is also Argentine cuisine: empanadas, cheese, beans, and corn are all in abundance. Keep in mind they eat late, so restaurants will be empty until about 9pm. Once you start dining however, meals go on for hours. The restaurants mentioned below will give you a sense of the profound Argentine love of food and wine.
Clos de Chacras: Lunch at this winery was one of my most memorable meals in Mendoza. They offer a phenomenal multi-course lunch and wine tasting for just $20 a person. The restaurant is small and cozy, and provides a romantic venue for dining while sampling the winery’s delicious wines. The garlic crème brulee I had there is still one of the best dishes I have ever pleasure of tasting!
Dantesco: My husband and I had a spectacular meal at this multi-roomed restaurant, which has an lengthy menu and wine list. To our surprise wine bottles were offered for as little as $4, and we were even more surprised to discover that regardless of price, every wine we tried was unbelievably good. For dinner, we indulged in a decadent cheese plate, grilled tomato bruschetta, salad with corn and avocado, marinated peppers and artichokes, potato gratin, pumpkin and mozzarella pasta, and mushroom risotto. We were stuffed to the gills and took a stroll around the neighborhood after dinner to try and digest! Don’t miss this gem if you go to Mendoza.
1884 Restaurant: We decided to do one super fancy meal while in Mendoza, so we went to 1884, which is run by one of Argentina’s most famous chef’s, Frances Mallmann. The luxurious meal was full of grilled provolone cheese, burrata with pears and honey, flaky empanadas, pasta, housemade breads, and more. The wine list is extensive, but staff can help you pick something to complement your meal.
The verdict: Must add a weekend trip to Mendoza to your trip. It’s a haven for food and wine lovers. Eat, drink, and relax like the Argentines do with your significant other!