Although generally considered ‘new world,’ winemaking traditions in Argentina actually date back to the early 1500s. As in so many other parts of the world, missionaries brought winemaking techniques and vine cuttings with them so that they would be able to produce sacramental wine for religious services. In the 19th century, an influx of European immigrants (mainly from Italy and Spain) brought new cultivation techniques and vinifera grape varieties. Even then the immigrants recognized the great viticultural potential of what was then the underappreciated desert of Mendoza province. Collectively, they shaped Argentine culture, and wine became an integral part of the meal and daily life in general.
Since the 1980s, however, Argentina has become a leader in the production of outstanding wines. The Malbec grape, originally from the southwest of France, has risen to the highest of fame in Argentina. Initially used in Cahors as a blending grape, the varietal flourishes in Argentina. While it was almost completely wiped out in France by phylloxera, it survived in Argentina and has become the country's signature grape, with many premier 100% bottlings now available. Argentina is also producing many other classic varietals with success, such as Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Pinot Noir. These wines can be found with great quality and value. The white grape, Torrontes, is quickly claiming its spot as the country's signature white, and the red Bonarda is an up-and-coming star as well.
Argentina comprises the majority of the southern half of South America, bordered by the Andes Mountains to the west and the southern Atlantic Ocean on the east. A country of breathtaking landscapes, it has long conjured romantic images of the lonely gaucho, roaming the sun-bathed pampas as he tended his cattle and sheep. Argentina is a country known for its mouth-watering asados and empanadas and is most famous for the tango.