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South American Wine Regions

South American Wine Regions

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The modern Chilean wine industry dates from the 1980s, but wine has been made in this long, narrow strip of a country, on South America's southwestern coast, since the Spanish first brought the grapevine there in the 1500s. French and German grape varieties thrive in Chile's mostly dry and temperate climate. These include chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, riesling, viognier, and gewürztraminer for white wines and cabernet sauvignon, merlot, syrah, pinot noir, and above all carmenère. Though cabernet sauvignon vines are about four times more plentiful than those of this last-named variety, it is carmenère that is considered Chile's signature grape. A minor variety from Bordeaux, where it is now almost non-existent, it was long confused with (or rather interplanted with) merlot in Chile; correctly identified in the latter 20th century, it now produces dark, smooth, fruity wines that seem to go particularly well with the local cuisine. The major Chilean vineyard regions are Aconagua (which includes the Casablanca Valley), Atacama and Coquimbo (known mostly for table grapes and the base wine used for pisco brandy), Central Valley (near Santiago, and the home of the Curicó, Maipo, Maule, and Rapel valleys, whose wines are particularly well distributed internationally), and Southern Chile (which produces mostly bulk wines).


Like its neighbor, Chile, Argentina has become known in the international marketplace for a red wine based on a minor grape variety used in Bordeaux. For Chile, that's carmenère; for Argentina, the grape is malbec, important in the southwestern French region of Cahors but peripheral to most Bordeaux blends. Malbec produces dark, smooth, intense wines characterized by ripe fruit and firm tannin. Cabernet sauvignon also does well in Argentina, as do merlot, syrah, and pinot noir. A minor cultivar from France's Savoie, called bonarda (charbono in California), is also grown, though it is losing popularity, and Spain's tempranillo has a presence. The most popular Argentinian white wine internationally is the fragrant, fruit torrontés, but there is also considerable muscat, chardonnay, and sauvignon blanc, among other varieties. The most widely planted white variety is pedro giménez (not the pedro ximénez of Spain, though it may be related), but wines from the grape aren't bottled varietally for export. The best-known wine region in Argentina — which is the world's sixth largest wine-producing country (after Italy, France, Spain, the U.S., and China, in that order) — is Mendoza, near the Andes in the west-central part of the country. Red wines do particularly well here. San Juan and La Rioja, north of Mendoza, have had success with both white and red wines and San Juan produces fortified wines and brandy of some repute. The so-called Northwestern regions yield particularly rich torrontés, and good cabernet sauvignon (there are also plantings of tannat, a Southwestern French grape that has become the signature red variety of neighboring Uruguay). In far southern Argentina, in Patagonia, with its cool climate, chardonnay and pinot noir are the stars.

Typical Venezuelan Drinks

BATIDO: This fruit juice which is thick in texture and made with more fruit than water. Great on a hot day!

CHICHA: Like in most of the Andean countries this fermented beverage is also very popular in Venezuela. It is made with boiled rice, milk and sugar. You can buy it from street vendors as refreshing, sweet drinks in many cities. In the Andean regions around Merida they add fermented pineapples which is then is known as Chicha Andina.

COCADA: This is a milkshake made out of coconut milk. You can find this drink mainly at coast.

FRESCOLITA: Is a very popular, red soft drink in Venezuela, similar to cream sodas in the USA.

MERENGADA: Is another refreshing drink which is made with fruit, ice, milk and sugar.

PAPELÓN CON LIMÓN: This refreshing drink is sweet and sour made from raw sugar can pulp, water and lime juice. It is a great way to cool down on a hot summer day.

PONCHE CREMA: Served mainly at Christmas, it is a cream based liquor involving milk, eggs, sugar rum, nutmeg and vanilla. It is normally made with homemade special recipes, although you can also find a version bottled and sold in supermarkets.

RUM: Most of the rum in Venezuela is a light rum (minimum 40 ABV) with a clean taste. The Venezuelans drink it either on ice, mixed with coke (Cuba libre) or in other cocktails.

WINE: Wine has been produced in Carora since 1990, which is in the Lara State, but most Venezuelans prefer a cold beer or iced rum.

If anyone to learn more about typical Venezuelan Food, you will find a list at: Venezuelan Food

If you found this guide about Venezuelan Drinks interesting or useful, let others know about it:

The Food and Cooking of Colombia and Venezuela

Traditions, ingredients, tastes, techniques, 65 classic recipes from Colombia and Venezuela. Fully illustrated with 400 photographs, create authentic Colombian and Venezuelan dishes in your own kitchen.

Typical Food of Venezuela

Typical dishes and cuisine from the different regions of Venezuela. We have the name of the food in Spanish and an explanation of what that dish is in English.

Food and wine: south american wine regions

Buenos dias! Today we’ve moved on to the South American wine regions, specifically those in Argentina and Chile. These two countries are the star players in South American wine, and they produce a huge amount of the global wine industry. Mendoza alone produces nearly 60% of South American wine you could spend years here and not see it all. As for luxury properties in South America, there are quite a few stunning, remote retreats in Mendoza, northern Chile, and Patagonia.

South American wine regions

Similar to the North American wine regions, it was Europeans who brought the first grapevines to South America. The Spanish conquistadors, and then the Jesuits, brought over both Spanish and French grapes. The Phylloxera disease didn’t affect any vines down here, and all the grapes that were once blended with French wine (Malbec being a good example) are now stand alone standouts.

I’m only going to focus on Argentine and Chile, although Peru, Bolivia, Brazil, and Uruguay also have small wine regions. (Uruguay, actually, has a lot of wineries, mostly in the warm coastal region. French grapes do very well here.) Both Argentina and Chile are massively important to the global wine industry.

The climate in both Argentina and Chile is temperate and affected by the Andes Mountains. Most of the vineyards in South America are at higher altitudes (Peru, for example, has vineyards nearly as high as Machu Picchu) and receive quite a good mix of sunshine and rain.

Argentinian wine

Argentina is famous for its Malbec, a bold, juicy red with tons of character. However, Argentina also produces sensational Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, bubbly, Chardonnay, and it’s star white, Torrontes. I personally love love love Argentinian wines, and I’m always happy to taste test new varietals when I stumble on them at the store. Cab Franc is one that most people tend to either confuse with Cab Sauv or forget about altogether next time you see one at a shop, pick it up. Argentinian wine runs around $20/bottle, so while it’s not three-buck Chuck, it won’t break the bank either.

Chilean wine

Chile is an isolated country. It lies – long and skinny – between the Andes Mountains and the southern Pacific Ocean, between the dry, arid Atacama desert in the north and the glacial Patagonia to the south. However, this isolation means it is similar to the isolated Margaret River, south of Perth, Western Australia. It receives ample sunshine, plenty of rain, and also doesn’t get a lot of pollution in the air. Critics also compare it to New Zealand for what it’s worth, I concur. Maipo Valley is the most well known wine region in Chile. It’s also one of the oldest, with grapes planted as early as the 16th century. Cachapoal Valley is an easy day trip from Santiago.

Chilean wine literally runs the gamut from spicy Syrah to crisp Sauvignon Blanc. However, the most well known wine from Chile is Carmenere. This French grape used to be blended with other varietals, but really stands out here in Chile as the main grape.

Luxury among South American wines

I can’t say enough good things about the Virtuoso properties and partners in Argentina and Chile. My Argentinian partners include well-known brands Park Hyatt and Four Seasons, but also include boutique resorts and spas in Mendoza. Be sure to visit the hidden bars, take a food tour, and watch flamenco while in Buenos Aires! As discussed a few weeks ago, food tours in Argentina are a GREAT way to experience the culture and culinary delights of this unique country.

Chilean properties go from Patagonia to Santiago to the Atacama. Some are fully inclusive, like the explora lodges in Patagonia, Rapa Nui, and Atacama, while others are full-service, luxury hotels like the Ritz-Carlton Santiago. Tours operators run a variety of tours, or I can arrange private drivers and guide to escort you around the destinations.

An ideal itinerary needs to span the region (unless you plan on coming back). For shorter trips, a few days in Buenos Aires or Santiago can bookend a wine country + Patagonia trip. Mendoza is also a great addition to an Antarctic cruise, either pre-cruise or post-trip, or a Peru adventure if you have the extra time. Finally, even though there are no wineries here, if you are in Chile, then a visit to Easter Island is a must-do. All told, two to three weeks down here is an ideal length of time to spend exploring the South American wine regions.

Where are we off to tomorrow? Well, we’re staying in the Southern Hemisphere… can you guess?

While California&rsquos Napa Valley and Sonoma still reign supreme as the top wine regions in the United States, there are plenty of wine regions across the nation that are rapidly growing in prominence. Not only are these regions producing world-class wines, but they are also helping to create the basis of a thriving wine industry &ndash everything from wine tourism to wine festivals. Here&rsquos a closer look at the Top 10 wine regions of the United States.


Within California, Napa Valley and Sonoma are still the templates that every other wine region is trying to follow. Napa, of course, is known for its world-class Chardonnay, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. Sonoma, in turn, is known for its Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Chardonnay. But Napa and Sonoma are not the only wine regions within California creating buzz. Central Coast, for example, now boasts its own share of award-winning wineries. One of the new darlings of the wine world is Paso Robles, located approximately halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles.

Washington State

The state has a total of 14 different American Viticultural Areas (AVAs), with some of the more popular regions for wine production being Walla Walla and Columbia Valley. Since the 1960s, the state has rapidly increased its wine production capabilities, with wine exports going to more than 40 countries around the world. Washington is now No. 2 in the nation in terms of annual wine production, trailing only California. Popular grapes include Riesling, Chardonnay, Merlot, and Syrah.


Oregon has a much cooler climate than any of California&rsquos wine regions, making it perfect for growing not just Pinot Noir, but also Riesling, Chardonnay, and Gamay. The premier wine region within Oregon is the Willamette Valley, which has gained a worldwide reputation for its stellar Pinot Noir wines. Interestingly, Willamette Valley is located along the same latitude as France&rsquos famed Burgundy region, which is also famed for its Pinot Noir.

New York State

There are two regions within New York State that have attracted the attention of wine aficionados &ndash the Finger Lakes region and the North Fork. The North Fork is located in nearly the same part of Long Island as the famous Hamptons, which means that they attract many visitors and vacationers during the peak summer months. Further upstate, the Finger Lakes region is arguably the home of East Coast winemaking. A must-see destination on any trip to the Finger Lakes region is the winery of Dr. Konstantin Frank, who is credited with introducing grapes like Riesling and Gewürztraminer to the region. Overall, there are more than 100 wineries in the Finger Lakes region.


The most famous wine region within Virginia is located around the historic town of Charlottesville, perhaps best known as the home of Thomas Jefferson&rsquos Monticello. The state is known for its nearly 200-day growing season, as well as the presence of premier wineries such as Barboursville Vineyards and Linden Vineyards. Winegrowing has been part of Virginia&rsquos tradition since the Colonial era.


Everything is bigger in Texas, and that includes the Texas Hill Country wine region, which spans 9 million acres, making it the second-largest wine region in the nation. The dry, sunny Texas Hill Country climate is well suited for growing grapes like Tempranillo, Syrah, Albarino, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Zinfandel. The Texas Hill Country is generally used to refer to all land in the winegrowing region north of San Antonio and west of Austin.


The premier winegrowing region within Pennsylvania benefits from being situated between Lake Erie to the North and the Atlantic Ocean to the East. The state is now home to nearly 120 wineries and 5 different American Viticultural Areas (AVAs). One particularly noteworthy winery within the state is Waltz Vineyards.

The winemaking tradition in Ohio extends all the way back to the early 1820s. From 1823 to the mid-1860s, Ohio was home to one of the most popular wine industries in the nation and became particularly famous for its plantings of the Catawba grape. However, by the Prohibition Era, Ohio&rsquos wine industry was headed on a downward trajectory and has never fully recovered, despite its proud tradition. One noteworthy winery within Ohio is Markko Vineyards. Overall, there are more than 110 wineries within Ohio.


The Lake Michigan Shore region is not only scenic &ndash it is also home to a winegrowing region that has been called the &ldquoNapa of the Midwest.&rdquo The Lake Effect from Lake Michigan is what helps to moderate the climate of the region and produce such exceptionally complex wines. A local favorite tradition is to pair locally grown cheese with wines from local vineyards. Given the state&rsquos colder climate, grapes such as the Austrian Blaufrankisch grape are able to thrive in Michigan.


Missouri is perhaps most famous for its &ldquoMissouri Rhineland&rdquo &ndash a winegrowing region first settled by German immigrants more than a century ago. The first German immigrant winemakers appeared in 1837. By the 1880s, Missouri was the No. 1 wine-growing region in the nation &ndash the Napa Valley of its day. Today, the state boasts more than 90 different wineries, 4 different AVAs, and even a &ldquostate grape&rdquo (the Norton grape).

However, these are not the only U.S. states with noteworthy wine regions. North Carolina (130 wineries), Colorado (106 wineries) and Illinois (100 wineries) all just narrowly missed being included on the list. And just about every frequent traveler has some favorite, completely off-the-radar region that produces great wines. It&rsquos no longer uncommon for food & wine magazines to devote feature stories to the great wines of states like Idaho or Arizona.

In order to really enjoy these wines, it&rsquos best to make a full weekend of it. Wine tourism is very much alive and well, not just in places you&rsquod expect &ndash like sunny California &ndash but also in regions that might be colder (such as the Finger Lakes) but that boast a remarkably robust network of wineries, trails and outside adventure activities for the whole family.

Chile's Central Valley

The long band of Chilean wine valleys that stretch north and south from Santiago produce many of the world's best wines. As a result, wine tourism is enormously popular in Chile, especially in the Central Valley's Maipo and Maule sub-regions because of their proximity to Santiago. Bus tours whisk visitors from the capital city to wineries in those regions and others. Part of the appeal of central Chile, for both grapes and wine tourists, is the comfortable year-round climate — about the same as in Southern California, but with the seasons reversed. Chile is best known for its red wines, especially Cabernet Sauvignons, but due to the diverse terroir — north to south and coast to Andes — every type of wine is well made.

A to Z of South American grape varieties

What are the key grape varieties in South America? Here’s an A to Z guide to South American grape varieties and wines. It is a work in progress, but by mid-2019 you should have the quintessential guide to Argentine wine varieties, Chilean wine varieties, Uruguayan wine varieties, Bolivian wine varieties, Peruvian wine varieties and Brazilian wine varieties! Phew! Now, let’s get started on that wine alphabet.


This Galician grape variety is showing great promise in Uruguay, where it is mainly planted in the coastal region of Maldonado. This Atlantic, maritime climate and the granite soils aren’t dissimilar to its native home in northern Spain, and the thick-skinned white grape variety thrives here with an estimated 55 hectares planted (40 of which belong to Garzón winery). The wines are bright, aromatic and have fresh acidity. There are also some smaller plantations of Albariño in Argentina (along the coast too).


Albilla is a white grape variety commonly grown in Peru and used for Pisco production. It is genetically considered the same as Palomino, although there are likely many mutations in Peru. Albilla was originally described as one of the ‘aromatic’ varieties for Pisco, but in reality it isn’t an aromatic variety at all and is better known for its mouthfeel than aroma. It is high yielding, has good acidity and is tolerant to Peru’s saline soils.


A modern cross of Tannat and Cabernet Sauvignon, Arinarnoa is on the rise in Uruguay and Brazil in particular, with additional plantations in Argentina. It produces deeply coloured red wines with intense aromatics and a strong tannin structure.


The local name in Argentina for Trousseau. Mainly found in Río Negro, there are 33 hectares planted in the country according to national records and a handful of producers are trying rescue this old variety from obscurity. New releases of Bastardo/Trousseau from Río Negro show red and forest fruit aromas with juicy mid-palate, fresh finish and earthy undertones.


Originally from Southwest France, this variety has virtually disappeared with the exception of Argentina. At one stage there were thousands of hectares planted but the variety has been in sharp decline in recent years. Today there are 600 hectares of Béquignol in Argentina.


One of Argentina’s most planted grapes, there are over 18,000 hectares of Bonarda planted in Argentina (also known as Douce Noir in France). Although Bonarda plantations are on the decline (at one stage it was the most-planted red variety in Argentina!) you’ll still find many warm, fruit-driving Bonarda wines especially from wine regions in Mendoza and San Juan. Fleshy fruit, moderate alcohol and a soft mouthfeel tend to characterise Bonarda. In cooler regions, and higher altitudes, you can find Bonarda with more tannin structure but in general it is a soft, fruit-driven and easy-drinking wine.

Bordeaux Blends

Not a grape variety, but an important category in South American wine. The ‘Bordeaux Blends’ tend to use Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Carmenère, Merlot and Petit Verdot in varying quantities to make rich, structured and age-worthy wines. Tannat, although it isn’t a variety permitted in Bordeaux as per the others, is also commonly used in a ‘Bordeaux Blend’ in Uruguay and occassionally in Argentina and Bolivia.

Cabernet Sauvignon

One of the major red grape varieties of South America, grown in every wine-producing country. Cabernet Sauvignon was first brought to the continent in the 1800s and has become widespread since. Chile has the most Cabernet Sauvignon planted in South America with over 42,400 hectares, making it the most widely-grown grape variety in the country, accounting for 30% of national production. Top regions for Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon are Maipo, Cachapoal and Colchagua, although the variety is grown in most wine regions.

In Argentina, there are 15,000 hectares of Cabernet Sauvignon planted making it the fourth most-planted variety in Argentina (accounting for 8% of the national total). Top regions for Cabernet Sauvignon include Luján de Cuyo, Maipú, the Uco Valley, the Calchaquí Valley and Neuquén.

Cabernet Sauvignon accounts for 6% of vineyard plantings in Uruguay (some 428 hectares) and it is also one of the major red grape varieties for wine production in Brazil, Bolivia and Peru.

Cabernet Franc

Cabernet Franc has played second-fiddle to Cabernet Sauvignon for a long time, but in recent years winemakers in Argentina and Chile, in particular, are giving emphasis to making top quality Cabernet Franc wines. There are over 1,000 hectares of Cabernet Franc planted in Argentina and top terroirs for Cabernet Franc include the Uco Valley and Luján de Cuyo. In Chile, there are 1,580 hectares of Cabernet Franc planted and it performs well across the Central Valley – including old vines in Maule. Cabernet Franc is planted, to a smaller extent, in all the other wine countries of South America. In Uruguay, winemakers are particularly excited about the potential of Cabernet Franc (with plantings currently at 250 hectares).


Also known as Grande Vidure in Bordeaux where the grape originally comes from (although some studies suggest it came from ancient Rome!), Carmenère is a historic European variety which was considered almost extinct following phylloxera. It was rediscovered in Chile having been mistakenly labelled as Merlot. Chile is now home to over 95% of the world’s Carmenère with over 10,500 hectares planted. A small amount of Carmenère is planted in Argentina (<60 hectares) and some vines are planted elsewhere in South America in small, experimental plots. Outside of South America, Carmenère is found in France, the US, Australia and most notably in Italy.


The Cereza grape is a Criolla grape native to Argentina. Pink in colour with large berries, Cereza is a nice grape to eat, make juice and is very production which is why it remains the second-most planted variety in Argentina (with 27,970 hectares). It is also made into cheap bulk or jug wines, on which you’ll rarely see the variety on the label. There’s a handful of producers making good, bottled wines with Cereza – usually in a very juicy, fruity and fresh style (somewhere rosé and red).

César Noir

Ancient variety from Burgundy. Old vines still exist in Chile. (See Romano.)


One of the top white varieties in the world and notably found in the modern winemaking regions of South America.

Chardonnay in Chile

There are over 11,400 hectares of Chardonnay in Chile. It is used for a wide range of wines from generic table wines through to Chile’s most expensive white wines. Top regions for Chardonnay in Chile are Limarí, Casablanca, San Antonio, Aconcagua and Patagonia. However you will find Chardonnay in all of Chile’s wine regions.

Chardonnay in Argentina

There are over 6,200 hectares of Chardonnay in Argentina and it is grown in all of the major wine regions – from Salta in the north down to Patagonia in the south, including the coastal and Andean wine regions in between. Some of the best Chardonnay in Argentina can be found in the high altitude wine regions of the Uco Valley, including Gualtallary, San Pablo and Altamira.

Chardonnay in Uruguay

As a coastal wine region, Chardonnay does well in Uruguay, although it only has 115 hectares planted.

Chardonnay in Brazil

Chardonnay in Brazil is mainly used for sparkling wines but it is also considered one of the most premium white wines. There are approximately 650 hectares planted and the best Chardonnay in Brazil comes from the wine regions of Pinto Bandeira, Vale dos Vinhedos and Encruzilhada do Sul.

A different variety to Malbec, although originally thought to be the same. Cot is much more productive than Malbec and can produce almost twice the yield if you don’t control it through pruning or green harvest. It is generally lower in alcohol than Malbec and has a stronger tannin structure.


Criolla refers to a large network of varieties which were originally brought by the Spanish in the 1500s. Criolla may also refer to the specific varieties – Criolla Grande and/or Criolla Chica.

Criolla Chica

Red Criolla variety as it is known in Argentina. See País.

Criolla Grande

The fifth most planted variety in Argentina, there are 14,842 hectares of Criolla Grande in Argentina. Like Cereza, this is a very productive pink variety that is used for juice and table wine. In part of the Criolla comeback, winemakers are using Criolla Grande to make fresh, fruity and juicy wines which are usually light in colour and body.

Criolla No 1

This is a recent discovery of a Criolla variety, born in Argentina, with parentage from Malbec and Criolla Grande. There aren’t many plantations of Criolla No 1 but it is being studied by INTA in Mendoza. Their vinification of the variety has resulted in a wine with deep colour, fine tannins and a medium body.


Uruguayan name for Isabella grape variety. See Isabella.


A minor variety in South America, the largest plantings of Gewürztraminer in South America are in Chile, where you’ll find over 370 hectares, mainly in the coastal regions and in Maule.

A rare white grape variety originally from Spain (also called Hebén) and the Mediterranean. Planted historically in Argentina and waning in population, although still found notably in Eastern Mendoza (where over 400 hectares remain).


Often misnamed Prosecco, the Glera grape is used for making sparkling wine in Brazil – notably in Vale dos Vinhedos – and Argentina. Brazil has over 70 hectares planted, and Argentina has 11 hectares.


American (Vitis labrusca) grape variety which is widely planted in Brazil (where it is called Isabel) and Peru (where it is called Borgoña), and was widely planted in Uruguay (where it is called Frutilla). This Vitis labrusca variety has overt aromas of strawberry bubblegum and also some foxy aromas. It can make a simple, fruit-driven wine, and high sugar content often means it is off-dry or sweet, and it is commonly used for making juice in Brazil. It is hardy to poor weather and a reliable grape for growing in more humid and warm conditions.


This white grape is a Pisco grape variety commonly grown in Peru and Chile, and is thought to be the same as Moscatel de Alejandria. Italia is one of the aromatic Pisco varieties.

Listán Prieto

Red Criolla variety known by this name in the Canary Islands of Spain. See Pais.


This modern cross between Cabernet Sauvignon and Grenache is grown in Uruguay and Brazil with plantings in Argentina, Chile and Bolivia to a lesser extent. Marselan is also a hardy variety (which suits Uruguay’s and Brazil’s climate well) and makes wines with supple tannins, rich colour and fruit-driven aromatics.


Red Criolla variety known by this name in the USA. See País.

Mollar Cano

A Peruvian grape variety that is commonly used for Pisco production. Often planted in field blends with the other Pisco grapes. Mollar (also known as Negramoll, or Negra Moll) is said to bring sweetness and ripe fruit character to Pisco, and was brought from Spain originally.

Moscatel de Alejandria/Muscat of Alexandria

Moscatel de Alejandria is the Spanish for Muscat of Alexandria, considered one of the most ancient varieties still in existence today. It is widely spread in the Old and New World and was famed in the early days of winemaking (it is rumoured Cleopatra drank Muscat of Alexandria!)

In South America, Moscatel de Alejandria was one of the earliest vines to be planted and spread throughout the main wine-producing countries. It is widely planted in Chile, Argentina, Brazil, Peru and Bolivia. Used for aguardientes (distilled spirits) and wine. There are some very interesting old vine Moscatel wines being made in southern Chile, Argentina and in Peru. Most romantic of all, are the Muscat in Bolivia which grow around the Molle (pink peppercorn) trees, giving the wine a very distinctive flavour.

Moscatel de Alejandria is also the mother of many of the Criolla grape varieties (Criolla Grande, Cereza, Torrontes, Pedro Gimenez etc). She was such a prolific grape variety because people would typically eat the Moscatel de Alejandria grapes and throw the seeds, causing widespread vine growth.

Other Moscatel grapes

There are hundreds of varieties of Muscat in the world and South America has plenty of diversity of Muscat varieties – some of which were born on the continent. For winemaking, Moscatel Rosada (known as Italia in Peru) is seeing a revival and Moscatel de Hamburgo is one of the most planted varieties in Uruguay.


No-one really talks about Niagara in South America. However, it is an important variety for Brazil and, to a lesser extent, Uruguay. Brazil has over 3,500 hectares of Niagara planted (both white and pink) and this North American grape (Vitis Labrusca) is used for wine, juice and for eating.

Negramoll (Negra Moll)

A Criolla grape variety found in Peru. See Mollar.

País (Listán Prieto, Criolla Chica, Mission, Negra Criolla)

This red grape variety is a Criolla grape that has been widely planted in the Southern Cone since the Spanish arrived in the 1500s. There are over 45 synonyms for País and historically it was the most important variety on the continent – accounting for over 90% of plantings in Chile and Argentina in 1833, according to the University of Santiago. Today there are 9,600 hectares of País in Chile (often old vine País, dry-farmed and head-trained), 1,250 in Peru and 360 hectares in Argentina. It is mainly used for Pisco production in Peru, while in Chile and Argentina it has been used for bulk wine in recent history, and today is being made into fine wines. Read more about the País revival.

Pedro Giménez / Pedro Ximénez

Pedro Giménez and Pedro Ximénez are often interchanged, although there is a difference. Pedro Giménez is a Criolla grape which is found in Argentina, whereas Pedro Ximénez is a Spanish grape which is commonly grown in Jeréz in southern Spain (commonly used for sweet Sherry). There are 10,700 hectares of Pedro Giménez in Argentina and it is one of the most planted white varieties in the country, although it is in decline. There are also some vineyards of Pedro Ximénez in Argentina, although Pedro Ximénez is more common in Chile, where it is used for producing both Pisco and wine.
Note: Pedro Giménez is called Pedro Jiménez in Chile.

Pinot Gris/Pinot Grigio

Pinot Gris is grown in almost equal proportions in Argentina (440 hectares) and Chile (437 hectares), with just a few vineyards in Uruguay and Brazil.

Pisco varieties

The Pisco varieties are a collection of Criolla varieties which are used for Pisco and Brandy production (but can also be used for wine production). These include Torontel, Italia, Albilla, Moscatel, Quebranta, Negra Peruana/Negramoll, Uvina and Mollar.


Mistakenly named Prosecco, the Glera grape is grown in Brazil and Argentina. (See Glera.)


A native pink variety found in Peru and typically used for Pisco, but also for wine production today. Quebranta in Peru is considered one of the finest of the Criolla grapes. Quebranta is, in fact, a cross between Listán Prieto (País/Criolla Chica) and Negramoll.


There are two types of Riesling in South America. The first, Riesling, is the noble variety that is best known from Germany, Alsace and Austria. The second, Riesling Italico, is actually Welschriesling – a less noble and much more simple variety, also known as Graševina in Croatia. Another variety, called Rieslina, also exists in Argentina.

The best wines come from Riesling and top areas for good quality Riesling in South America are Bío Bío, Casablanca, San Antonio and Colchagua Andes in Chile, and the Uco Valley and Río Negro in Argentina.


An ancient variety from Burgundy (also known as César Noir) which arrived in Chile in the 19th century. It almost disappeared from Burgundy following phylloxera, but pockets of old vines remain in Chile. It is often planted with other varieties.

Sauvignon Blanc

Sauvignon Blanc is planted throughout South America’s wine regions. You’ll find Sauvignon Blanc in Bolivia, Peru and Brazil. However most notable are the Sauvignon Blanc wines from Chile, Argentina and Uruguay.

Sauvignon Blanc in Chile

The most planted white variety in Chile, Sauvignon Blanc accounts for 15,000 hectares of vines! It is grown throughout all of Chile’s major wine regions and performs particularly well in the coastal regions of Casablanca, San Antonio and Limarí. Mountain Sauvignon Blanc in Colchagua and Cachapoal also shows promise and there are some interesting examples coming from the southern regions of Bío Bío and Malleco. Most of Chile’s Sauvignon Blanc, though, is made in general Central Valley blends.

Sauvignon Blanc in Argentina

There are 2,060 hectares of Sauvignon Blanc planted in Argentina and it is produced in all of the major wine regions. Some of the most distinctive and best Sauvignon Blanc in Argentina comes from high altitude vineyards, in particular from the regions of Salta (Cafayate and Calchaquies) and the Uco Valley. There is also some excellent Sauvignon Blanc being produced on the coast of Argentina in Mar del Plata.

Sauvignon Blanc in Uruguay

While Uruguay is mainly a red wine country, there is good Sauvignon Blanc in Uruguay. There are 141 hectares of Sauvignon Blanc in Uruguay and the best examples come from the coastal regions.

Sauvignon Vert (Sauvignonasse)

For a long time Sauvignon Vert was confused with Sauvignon Blanc in Chile, where you’ll find 658 hectares of it today. Now that the Sauvignon Vert is identified correctly, Chile’s Sauvignon Blanc has improved and a new – much smaller – category of Sauvignon Vert wines has emerged, although the majority of Chile’s Sauvignon Vert is put into larger blends. In Argentina, where it is called Sauvignonasse, there are 405 hectares and it too has had a confused identity for several decades.


Sémillon in Argentina

There’s been a revival of old vine Sémillon in Argentina. Historically there were thousands of hectares of Sémillon in Argentina, but they have now dwindled to 730 hectares. Winemakers have rediscovered the value of Sémillon over the last few years, making it into single variety wines and putting it in blends. Today there are dozens of single-variety premium Sémillon wines on the market, mainly from Mendoza and Rio Negro.

Sémillon in Chile

The story of Semillon in Chile is similar to that of Argentina. While plantings are in decline, there are still 850 hectares planted today – most of which are old vines. Winemakers are also turning their attention to making single-variety Sémillon wines in Chile and there are some exciting Sémillons, particularly from the southern valleys.


Tamarugal is a native white grape variety that has been found and rescued from obscurity in the Tarapacá region in northern Argentina. A white grape, the bunch of Tamarugal is a loose and medium-sized, well-suited to the desert climate and conditions of the Atacama Desert and regions in northern Chile.


The indisputed King of Uruguay, Tannat is Uruguay’s most planted grape variety – accounting for a quarter of all vineyards. It is also a much-loved variety in northern Argentina (especially the Calchaquí Valley) and in Bolivia. There are in fact Tannat vineyards in most of South America’s wine regions, but where it has mainly made a name for itself is in Uruguay.

With 1,655 hectares planted, Tannat is grown all over Uruguay‘s wine regions – running from the coast east to west and inland on the border with Brazil and Argentina. The thick skins of this variety, originally from South West France, are resistant to the humid conditions in Uruguay and it is hardier to changes in vintage, delivering good quality wines years on year. Tannat is known for its high acidity, spicy tannins and for being one of the healthiest wines out there (it has more antioxidants than most other grape varieties).


The name for Torrontés in Chile and Peru. This is an aromatic grape variety, typically used for Pisco production, but there is a growing tendency towards using it to make natural wines (especially in southern Chile).


This is, in fact, three grape varieties: Torrontés Riojano, Torrontés Sanjuanino and Torrontés Mendocino. They were traditionally grown in the different regions they are named after (La Rioja, San Juan and Mendoza) but today Torrontés Riojano is favoured in all regions because of its superior quality for wine production.

This aromatic white grape is native to Argentina – a cross between Criolla Chica [País] and Muscat of Alexandria. Typically it is very aromatic with explosive floral, tropical and orchard fruit notes. It can be vinified either as a dry or off-dry wine, or a dessert wine. The most common, dry version, can sometimes have a slight bitterness on the palate, although modern winemaking techniques are eliminating this characteristic.

Torrontés is grown all over Argentina but performs best at high altitudes, where the cooler evening temperatures help to retain some acidity and freshness. It is particularly well-known from the valleys in Salta – Cafayate and Calchaquies.


A red grape variety found in Peru and typically used for Pisco production. One of the non-aromatic varieties used for Pisco.

Typical Colombian Drinks

AGUAPANELA: Made by dissolving a block of sugarcane into water and adding lime juice, aguapanela is a common refreshment in Colombia and neighbouring countries. It is normally made in the home in large batches. (We imagine because of all the stirring it takes to dissolve the sugar cane).

AGUADIENTE: While each South American country has their own Aguardiente, Colombia might be the country that consumes the most. There are fierce rivalries between the producers of each region, and Colombians are proud of their national liqueur. It is derived from sugarcane and contains the aniseed flavours. It has 29% alcohol content, although you can find aniseed flavoured liqueurs with less alcohol as well. It is consumed more inland, as Colombians living on the coast generally prefer rum.

BOGADERA: Aguapanela with cinnamon and lemon. Similar to Canelazo (below) but with lemon.

CANELAZO: Alcoholic drink. Aguardientes will be mixed with either Aguapanela and cinnamon (canela in Spanish). Sometimes you can find it with fresh fruit juices instead of Aguapanela.

CHAMPÚS: It is made with maize and a mixture of fruits and then seasoned with cinnamon, cloves and orange trees leaves. It is reserved almost exclusively for the Christmas season. It is also drunk in Peru and Ecuador.

CHAQUETA: Coffee with aguapanela. Chaqueta literally means jacket in Spanish, probably because they keep you warm inside.

CHICHA: This is a typical drink from the indigenous people of the South American Andes. Most of the time it is made from fermented maize, sometimes from fruit. Just keep in mind that in some cultures instead of the germination of the maize, the maize will be ground and chewed in the mouth of the chicha maker instead.

COFFEE: Colombian coffee is famous all around the world. Unfortunately most of the high quality coffee will be exported and some people say that the coffee you find in Colombia is not of such a high quality.

COLOMBIANA: Soda drink of tamarindo.

FRUIT JUICES: You can find excellent fruit juices all over Colombia. Especially in hot regions or the coastal areas the fruit juices will often be mixed with sugar, milk or water.

GUARAPO: Is very similar to chicha. It is probably one of the oldest Indian drinks made of fermented pineapple or other fruit like grapes. The juice of raw sugar cane is also called Guarapo.

LULADA: Is a special drink served in Cali. It is made of the pulp of the local fruit lulo mixed together with water, sugar and ice cubes. It also can be served with a shot of Vodka.

REFAJO: It is a mix of Colombiana with either beer or rum.

RUM: The Colombian rum is high quality and is likely to be drunk at night clubs. Unlike in Europe or North America, where you can order a single drink mixed with rum, here it is generally served as an entire bottle. Everyone at your table is welcome to join in with a bit of ice and lime.

SALPICÓN: Mixed chopped up fruit with either soda or orange juice.

TINTO: When they ask you if you would like a "tinto" don't always expect a glass of red wine. In Colombia it is the name for a small black coffee.

You might want to check out our Typical Colombian Food Page.

If you found this Colombian Drinks Guide interesting or useful, let others know about it:

Typical Food of Colombia

Typical dishes and cuisine from the different regions of Colombia. We have the name of the food in Spanish and an explanation of what that dish is in English.

General information

A list with the names of typical food and drink of each country and an explanation of what it contains. We also have our list of maps of South America.

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Traditions, ingredients, tastes, techniques, 65 classic recipes from Colombia and Venezuela. Fully illustrated with 400 photographs, create authentic Colombian and Venezuelan dishes in your own kitchen.

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With 133 recipes this book is a complete tour of Colombian cuisine through the diverse regions of Colombia. This 224-page book is illustrated with 199 exceptional color photographs that enable us to appreciate the succulent appearance of each dish and of its various ingredients.

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Terra Andina Sparkling Moscato

This wine was a media sample from Terra Andina and Palm Bay International

One of my favorite things to do is simply hang out with my husband. He is my best friend and we love lazy afternoons where we can sit and talk or just share the day and occasionally he even a glass/bottle of wine with me. He likes wine, but prefers beer. When it comes to wine he is very particular. His palate is limited and he doesn’t push himself beyond his comfort zone, he knows what he likes and that’s typically what he sticks with. He doesn’t like rose’ and rarely tries any white wines, but the other day he came into the house and wanted something different to drink. He didn’t want wine, he didn’t want beer. It must have been his luck y day as I had already started chilling a sparkling Moscato to enjoy later.

A dry champagne would not have suited the hot May afternoon, but this slightly sweet sparking wine was a real treat. Hubby popped open the bottle and we headed outside. Sitting on the covered back porch with the ceiling fan stirring just enough air to take the heat away, we sipped and enjoyed the rest of the afternoon.

Terra Andina describes this wine as chic, refreshing and like Brazil itself, fun and full of life. With only 7.5% alcohol, it was the perfect afternoon drink.

5 South American Wines You’re Not Drinking, But Should Be

Most wine lovers have already savored a glass of Argentinean Malbec or Chilean Carménère, but the breadth of the South American wine industry does not stop with these two signature grapes, nor is it contained to the usual suspects of Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. These “noble grapes” may dominate much of the export market these days, but intrepid winemakers are experimenting with other “forgotten” varietals exiled to the Americas over the past five centuries in hopes of discovering the next great South American vino.

Production is ramping up everywhere from Patagonia to The Pampas, and as it does, winemakers are uncovering a wealth of diversity hidden within some of the New World’s oldest vines. What does this mean for you? Well, if you’re looking for something new to show off at your next dinner party, we’ve got the lowdown on five grapes thriving in South America that, while rarely noticed north of the Equator, deserve a closer look. Best of all, none of the bottles recommended below should set you back more than $20.

Chilean Pais

If you’ve ever stooped to the bottom shelf and snatched a dubious-looking box wine from Chile, chances are you’ve already sampled the Pais grape. Don’t let that scare you. This easily cultivated jug wine favorite might not be the most expressive in its youth, but by carefully selecting fantastically gnarled 100-year-old vines from the Maule Valley (Chile’s oldest wine region), winemakers have begun releasing some incredible bottles made from this once maligned varietal. “The old vines produce less, but their grapes have much more concentrated flavors, which result in a deeper, more complex wine,” explained Chilean wine expert Marcela Chandía, of Chile diVino. Proof of Pais’ potential came in 2012 when a sparkling rose from esteemed winemaker Miguel Torres – the grape’s biggest advocate – won top honors at the Wines of Chile Awards. Now a number of boutique producers like Chilcas and Huaso de Sauzal are making powerful reds from this humble grape that arrived in South America 500 years ago with the Spanish conquistadors.

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Chilean Carignan

It was in the wake of Chile’s deadliest earthquake in 1939 that the government turned to Carignan (a grape commonly found in southern France) as a way of boosting the livelihood of rural farmers in the hard-hit Maule Valley. But the plan never really took off and Carignan sold for a pittance right up until the 1990s when international demand for Chilean wines skyrocketed and forward-thinking winemakers realized the untapped potential of their old vines. Fast-forward another two decades and the grape has hit it big with the formation of Vignadores de Carignan (VIGNO), an advocacy and co-marketing organization formed in 2011 that mandates, among other things, that its members’ wines be made from dry-farmed (un-irrigated) vines at least 30 years in age. Old-vine Carignans are being touted as Chile’s “next Carmenere,” and an increasing number of bottles are creeping onto US shelves. Chandía said if you find the VIGNO label you can expect vino that’s “very structured, has a big mouth and is perfect for red meats.”

What To Buy: Chandía recommends Gillmore Vigno 2011


Uruguayan Albariño

Though Uruguay has been releasing some stellar Tannats in recent years, those in the know are even more excited about the potential of an even lesser-known grape: Albariño. This transplant from the Galicia region of northwest Spain produces a white wine with a botanical aroma akin to Viognier or Gewürztraminer and a peachy-fresh finish. Albariño is one of very few niche white wine grapes to have made a splash in South America, with Torrontés (below) being the other notable exception. It pairs well with seafood or salad and is a great porch-sipper on a balmy day. Claudio Angelotti, executive director of Bodegas del Uruguay, said the two Albariño producers to keep an eye on are Bodega Garzón (for something crisp) and Bouza Bodega Boutique (for a wine with more body). Whichever you choose, Albariño is easily the biggest crowd-pleaser on this list.

What To Buy: Angelotti recommends Bodega Garzón 2013 Albariño

Argentinean Torrontés

Torrontés is the shining star of a stark landscape, grown almost exclusively along Argentina’s dusty northwestern frontier in the world’s highest altitude vineyards. Widely consumed in Argentina, but little known beyond its borders, this grape produces the kind of white wine that’s fresh and fruity without being cloyingly sweet. In fact, it has a deceptively floral nose that belies a dry finish, according to Argentinean wine expert Diego Kostic, of Le Bon Vin in Buenos Aires. Kostic believes Torrontés is a grape that has a very bright future abroad. “If we know how to tell the story of Torrontés it can become very successful because it is 100% Argentinean,” he said. “There is no Torrontés anywhere else in the world.” Kostic recommends pairing Torrontes with Argentinean empanadas, but this versatile wine also matches well with other ethic cuisines like tacos, sushi or curry.

What To Buy: Kostic recommends Colomé Torrontes 2014

Argentinean Bonarda

It was the most cultivated grape in Argentina up until a decade ago, but don’t mistake Bonarda’s slight dip in production in recent years for a drop in quality. This red from Italy was, like Pais, once reserved largely for table wines, but has emerged in recent years as a standalone varietal that’s a great alternative for anyone who already harbors an affinity for Argentina’s more famous export, Malbec. Kostic said Bonarda and Malbec are actually quite similar. “Many winemakers want to sell Bonarda as ‘the new Malbec’ but that would be a mistake,” he noted. “It’s a beautiful wine, but not because it’s similar to Malbec.” Bonarda tends to be light and fruity, making it a food-friendly pick for burgers or barbecues. That said, several winemakers are experimenting with older vines and producing a new breed of Bonardas that are big, tannic mouth bombs better suited for a juicy steak.

What To Buy: Kostic recommends Durigutti Bonarda 2010

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Brazil, Hearts Of Palm Risotto Recipe
butter, hearts of palm, risotto rice, vegetable stock, olive oil, white peppercorn, parsley, onion, salt, parmesan cheese, white wine
The parsley is an important ingredient for flavor and color. This is a very fresh tasting risotto.
1 Bring stock to a boil in a medium saucepan. 2 In a large pan, heat olive oil and butter over hig.