In my last column, I talked about different ways to turn your living room into your favorite little cafe and support small roasters, baristas and coffee shops along the way. This week, we’ll talk about the other drink of the day: wine.
When this all began, I drank every night for about three weeks straight, diving into a well-stocked bar which was once used exclusively for dinner nights with friends. And while I would encourage everyone to practice safer alcohol consumption habits as isolation continues to become a long-term norm, here is a selection of wine shops, clubs and sommeliers to make wine drinking a much-needed treat.
AN ARGUMENT FOR BUYING WINE OUTSIDE THE GROCERY STORE
Argentina is the fifth largest producer of wine in the world, representing nearly 6% of global wine production. Viticulture represents 385,000 jobs across the food and drink industry — that’s 35 times more work per hectare than the country’s beloved soy.
Anyone who has lived in the city for more than half a decade can attest to an enormous paradigm shift in wine consumption over the last few years. In 2013, wine bar and shop Pain et Vin opened with what was then a brand new concept in Buenos Aires. The space ushered in wine by the glass and a new business model that brought wine made by small and medium producers to a larger audience. Wines that were almost exclusively offered in high-end restaurants because of their unavailability on supermarket shelves could now be enjoyed in the shop or taken home. Hundreds of similar businesses have popped up since.
These shops are invaluable bridges between small and medium wine producers and consumers. A purchase from a wine shop or straight from the producer directly impacts the survival of unique small producers and helps the continued evolution of wine production and consumption in the country.
And it doesn’t have to come at a high cost to the consumer. If you are willing to do some research or buy in bulk, you can find wines that are in the same price points as your neighborhood grocery. Like, for example, biodynamic Bonarda by Chakana for just $160 a bottle or Malbec by Susana Balbo for $400 a bottle.
FIND THE WINE
In March, wine shops had to quickly switch their sales to online platforms. Sommeliers Andrés Rosberg and Javier Manajovsky created Vino a tu puerta, a website directory of wine shops, restaurants and bodegas from all over the country. The platform is totally free for sellers—no commissions or fees—so every purchase you make directly impacts wine makers and shops.
For the not-so-versed wine drinkers (hi!), this is an amazing resource with more than 200 sellers on the platform.
JOIN A CLUB
If you are overwhelmed by the sheer amount of choices, consider joining a wine club. There are a handful of sommeliers and shops that put together a monthly set of 4 wines, which in many cases are chosen around a theme (region or grape varietal). I really dig WINO, which offers very affordable boxes of four wines for $1590, delivery included. In May, they offered four different wines from Valle de Uco. Vino a tu puerta also has a section on their website dedicated to different clubs.
In the same spirit, initiatives are popping up that unite wine sellers with other businesses. Bebé Vino is gearing up to start a book club called Culpables Club with their Patio del Liceo neighbors Espacio Brezal.
DON’T FORGET THE PICADA
Put a chair out on the balcony (or facing a window) and pretend for a moment that we are in a quiet wine bar. My favorite little bar, Nilson, offers a curated selection of cheese, bread, jam and charcuterie to go with arguably one of the best selections of small wine producers in the city. You can find similar offers from Palermo Hollywood’s Hache and Bodega Amparo in Urquiza, Devoto and Palermo.