Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Vinos Y Sabores -- Wines and Tastes of Argentina

Josh normally handles the wine writing around here but I will have to take a crack at it as well. It seems a waste to stick only to beer when you are in one of the world's great wine countries: Argentina.

Some background for you: I am living in Buenos Aires for the moment. I mentioned that I was coming here in a previous post about my New York Pub crawling activities. I flew out of NYC in order to save money on the flight and to spend the funds saved on beer. I then wrote about it and hopefully made the world a better place for it, though that is debatable.

I will be here until my significant other gets her papers to come back with me to Canada. In the meantime my goal is to explore the budding craft beer scene down here and to dip my feet into the wine side of things. I like wine. I just don't know nearly as much as Josh does, so please don't cringe if I pass up a good year of Luigi Bosca in favour of an inferiour Bodega. We all make mistakes.

I will also publicly state that I am working on a nightlife guide to this great city. Will it be comprehensive, covering every dive, club and pub in BA? No. That is too much for one man. Frankly, this already exists. It is called the telephone book. Information overload is of no use to anybody. The critical eye is all about selection, choosing to elevate the great from the rest that try to be best. Everyone on the internet wants to mindlessly document their lives, snapping photos of plates and glasses. That's boring. Tell me whats good, dude.

What it will cover is some of the hidden gems and must-sip locales the city has to offer. Trust me, it is chock full. If you pick up this book you will have a rough and ready guide to the city that will quench your thirst and avoid the worst.. If you read this blog you will be getting a preview.

Here is my take on a Recoleta neighbourhood spot that has a solid wine list and offers a nice beer special: Vinos Y Sabores

The name translates to Wines and Flavour or Wines and Tastes. It is very small, with modern decor and a TV that featured the Columbia-Bolivia match. The rest of the walls are covered with a selection of wine, chalkboards for specials and the wine list, and a large window hat looks into the street and the sidewalk seats. There is about 13 tables inside and a handful more on the sidewalk. It is cozy but not crammed.

I was attracted by the window and the chalkboard announcing the specials. Chalkboards are always a good sign (pun intended) because it means the menu probably changes on a regular basis and that you won't get bored visiting twice*.

I tired the Beer and Snack plate (cheeses, olives, salamis, cooked ham and a small loaf of fresh bread). The beer was a pint of Warsteiner and it washed down the snack plate nicely. If you see 'picado' on the menu it usually refers to a similar plate of cheeses, meats, olives, etc. that is meant for sharing and gossiping over. Frequently, these are for at least two people but this was the perfect size with which to whet my appetite. The pint, of course, is the perfect size with which to wet your whistle. The glass was not the usual pint shape so I am not 100% sure if I actually got my measure but I'm not going to get stingy.

I was quite hungry (despite eating several empanadas before arriving) and the picados did not last long. I was calling the waiter over for my second snack before the end of injury time. The next chalkboard special was a glass of wine and bruschetta.

The bruschetta had bitter greens, cured ham (jamón crudo) and was topped with cheese and a sundried tomato. The bread was crunchy but had enough chewiness to avoid being a giant crouton. I hate when bread is needlessly crunchy and it explodes all over your table. It makes you look like a messy eater and like you can't even eat your antipasti. I once cut my mouth on a piece of dry bread. I would argue that you aren't even eating bruschetta anymore if your bread turns into bread crumbs--but that is neither here nor there.

The bruschetta was a delight. The plate even had a decorative line of beet paste to encircle the dish and to remind you that the thing you are trying to eat is in the center of your plate. It tasted good too and I felt no shame at dipping my finger into it in front of the well heeled patrons who had filtered in by this time.

I was early to the restaurant by Argentine dinnertime standards. As the true city dwellers arrived the lights were dimmed, the futbol was muted and jazz music was played. I wasn't complaining about the atmosphere before, but this was a nice change. The most striking change to the ambiance was the arrival of my girlfriend. She ordered a risotto that was heavy on fungi but not too heavy in the belly.

We shared it as I finished my generously filled glass of wine and hurried home to watch what turned out to be Argentia's historic defeat to Venezuela. La puta que lo parió! It was depressing to see but I was lulled to sleep by the memory of the night's meal.

My only wish was that I could have had glasses of some of their more expensive wines. These were not available by the glass for obvious reasons. I was happy with the wine that I did try and will definitely go back there again. Another reason to return is that I have no idea what wine I was served. I was a little lost in the moment for note taking. What a perfect excuse for repeat business.

*Here, it could just mean that the prices change frequently due to inflation.

1 comment:

  1. i missed ya last time but i got your message. give me a call tm. or when you get this. -w