Intipalka, produced in the Peruvian pisco heartland in of the region of Ica, manages to accomplish something that rarely occurs with Peruvian wine: not be spit out. Sure Tacama has put out a few alright wines, mostly their reserves, but nothing that could ever rival an average (lets not get carried away here) vino from Argentina or Chile. This wine isn’t half bad. Drinkable even. It proves Peru has the grape growing potential that extends beyond pisco.
It’s Cinco de Mayo, which isn’t Mexican Independence Day (that’s September 16), but a day to commemorate the Battle of Puebla in 1862, which no Mexican outside of Puebla talks about. Basically, it is a Mexican themed drinking holiday in the United States fueled by Mexican beer and Tequila companies. Let’s skip the margarita this year and even the Corona and premium sipping tequilas. Instead opt for one of two real Mexican concoctions that turn a beer into a sort of cocktail: the Michelada or Chelada.
Besides the Pisco Sour, Algarobbina, and Chilcano, the El Capitán (the Captain) is one of the most common Pisco based cocktails you will find in Peru. There is no exact date that the cocktail can be traced back to in Peru, though it was likely created by Italian immigrants in Lima with the arrival of vermouth (Cinzano Rosso) in 1854. The name, as the legend goes, is derived from military captains who rode on horseback in the altiplano near Puno and asked for a drink of pisco mixed with vermouth. Basically, the El Capitán is the Pisco version of a Manhattan.
Aesthetically, I have come to appreciate O. Fournier maybe more than any other winery in Mendoza. The dramatic architecture, cutting edge technology, glass enclosed restaurant, and art filled wine cellar have made the bodega here one of the most recognizable in Mendoza. During a visit to their Uco Valley winery in 2010 I found the team there to be surprisingly down to earth and approachable. Co-founder Jose Manuel and his wife Nadia Haron, the executive chef, were out chatting with the guests. Their daughter helped wait tables. This combination of elements all becomes reflected in the wine they produce.
I have never been to Salta, but torrontés might change that. The white grape, which I first tasted in Mendoza last year, has quickly become my favorite white. It’s the one wine I pair with almost anything now: sushi, cheese, paté, duck, grilled shrimp, and even fish tacos. It serves as a cleanser and can calm down your palate with spicy Asian and Latin foods. On a sunny day, a chilled glass of torrontés – with its hints of grapefruit, elderflower, and apricot – is as smooth and refreshing as any wine I’ve ever had. It’s the same feeling as cracking open a frosty cold beer after an exhausting day.
n Torrontés, from Argentina (Wines of The Times) the New York Times proclaims that torrontés, one of Argentina’s other blossoming white wines (another is viognier) has begun to take the United States by storm. In 2004, less than 30,00 cases of torrontés were exported to the U.S. In 2010, that number ballooned to 231,000 cases, the Times reports via Wines of Argentina.
Malbec grapes grow in Argentina like nowhere else on earth; just as grass fed cows have no prettier place to graze than on the country’s endless plains. These are two iconic elements of the country. On their own they spin legends, but pair the two and this is where they form something special. Something only experienced in Argentina.
At Cusco restaurant Limo Cocina Peruana & Pisco Bar I sampled this fruity cocktail that has quite a powerful kick thanks to the Aji Limo, a flavorful Peruvian chile pepper.
Easter Island, or Rapa Nui (or Isla de Pascua) finally has a beer and brewery to call its own. The non-filtered, 100% natural, and double fermented Mahina beer operation is partially owned by explora hotel associate and one time underwater diving champion Mike Rapu. The bottle states that the beer is produced under a full moon using an ancient recipe from the wise man Paca, though that may be a bit of an embellishment.
Peru doesn’t have a well developed beer culture. In most parts of the country there are just two options: Pilsen or Cuzqueña. A few other mass produced brands are available too, though they are all simple lagers that taste quite similar to one another. Even the imports are limited to Stell, Peroni, or Corona. So, when I discovered the stand of the Mushna microbrewery at Lima’s annual gastronomic festival Mistura, I was quite surprised. The small brewery from Tacna, in the south of the country near the Chilean border, had three beers on tap: Irish Red Ale, Pale Ale, and a Robust Porter.