Winter is coming to the United States, which means summer is coming to Argentina. It's the perfect time to head south for some sun while exploring Argentina's fantastic wines and delicious food. We thought we'd share some recommended pairings for the dishes you're most likely to encounter.
The classic Argentine meal is the asado (barbecue), which is a procession of grilled meats, almost always beef and sometimes accompanied by grilled vegetables and even grilled cheeses, but more often by salads and fried potatoes. You may find a few items you're not used to seeing on your plate, including rinones (kidneys), chinchulines (intestines), and morcilla (blood sausage). Don't be afraid! The textures may be unusual, but everything tastes great. For the main cuts of meat, malbec is essential. When eating in the summer heat, Argentines often chill their red wine slightly, which makes younger bottles a better choice.
In the north of Argentina, you'll find a very different cuisine featuring spicy stews and pockets of meat, cheese, and vegetables. Officially, the stew called locro (pictured above) is Argentina's national dish, with sausage, bacon, beans, and hominy making for a hearty feast. Mondongo is similar, but with tripe; it can be a bit spicier, too, and the broth may incorporate tomato paste. Empanadas, filled with a pungent mix of ground or chopped meat, olive, and egg -- or anything else -- are every Argentine's go-to fast food, and the best are traditionally from Salta. For something a little different, try humita, a tamale made with a sort of semi-sweet corn pudding. All of these dishes require a wine of intense flavor created in the crucible of the north's dry climate. We recommend a cabernet franc or syrah from San Juan, or perhaps a lusty blend from Salta's Andean valleys.
Finally, Patagonia offers one more set of delicacies, led by cordero (lamb), cabrito (goat), and game meats that are perfect matches for a robust cabernet sauvignon, or perhaps a merlot. There are also freshwater trout and ocean seafood brought in from either coast, so white wines and pinot noirs -- the latter a specialty of Rio Negro and Neuquen -- have their time to shine. Rio Negro has a long history of producing good merlot, too. As you travel around, you might even find one of Patagonia's artisanal breweries. So go ahead, have a beer instead of wine one night -- we won't tell. Salud!