The wine scene in Buenos Aires is booming and opportunities to sample Argentina’s far-flung terroirs in its capital have never been more inspiring. Establishments such as World’s 50 Best-ranked Parrilla Don Julio and Oviedo have long invested in their cellars. But today a thirst extending beyond Malbec has inspired a multitude of new bars and vinotecas (wine stores).
Chefs thinking beyond beef means that sommeliers can fashion lists that allow whites, skin-contact and light-bodied reds to shine. Renewed interest in bottling Criolla and Pedro Ximénez has helped to drive this trend. Easy-drinkers are now well represented on the cartas at plant-based Julia, Narda Comedor and Chui restaurants, as well as at LatAm 50 Bester Aramburu, seafood specialist Crizia and Latin American café Condarco.
Many wine gurus have also transcended the restaurant plane. Take Martín Bruno, winner of the Concurso Mejor Sommelier de Argentina (Best Sommelier of Argentina Competition) 2017, who runs Bebé Vino with wife Victoria García. Equally noteworthy is Rodrigo Calderón’s captivating cellar By Sótano. Both spots host regular tastings and by-the-glass options, as do Winemakers in Recoleta, Vino El Salvador in Palermo Hollywood and Mr Wines in Caballito.
While Pain & Vin was an early leader of the wine bar/store pack, proffering sourdough and a careful vintage selection, many have followed suit. San Telmo is home to two female sommelier-led projects – Vina by Sofia Maglione and Samantha Nilson’s eponymous spot.
And with City Hall due to unveil the Distrito del Vino later in 2022, it’s never been a better moment for wine lovers to travel to Buenos Aires.
Anafe first attracted a hip foodie crowd to its pop-ups and puerta cerrada (closed door) dining experiences. It opened its permanent home in February 2020. Surfing the pandemic wave meant chefs Mica Najmanovich and Nico Arcucci had to draw on their creativity, but it paid off – Anafe was awarded One To Watch by Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants in 2021. Stylish comfort food such as chicken liver pâté on an almond financier and home-cured fish keeps regulars returning. A solid federal wine list chosen by sommelier Celina Bartolomé includes many low-intervention and skin-contact labels such as La Imaginación al Poder.
Virrey Avilés 3216, Colegiales
Relative newcomer Anchoita houses one of Buenos Aires’ most diverse lists, thanks to talented sommelier Valeria Mortara’s relentless search for wines with a backstory. It’s also one of few restaurants in the city to stock world wines, boosted by a captivating selection of verticals including Bodega Chacra and Zuccardi Q. A former textiles workshop shuttered for two years, Anchoita reopened in February, and seats at the kitchen counter are already in high demand. Sample seafood charcuterie followed by a whole freshwater fish such as pacú. Bonus track: two blocks away is the bijou Anchoita Cava wine bar, which opened in December, and stocks 111 artisanal cheeses: a great bolthole while you wait for your table.
Juan Ramírez de Velasco 1520, Chacarita
One of the most stylish establishments in Buenos Aires, this early 20th-century mansion was given a major facelift by Mezcla hospitality group to embrace a florist, publisher, bar and restaurant. Former Mugaritz chef Julieta Caruso’s kitchen takes a plant-led approach, sourcing many herbs from Casa Cavia’s organic garden. Meanwhile sommelier Mariana Torta maintains a well-structured, 110-strong federal list that names every winemaker: big hitters include White Bones and Piedra Infinita, with a sprinkling of Champagne. Sample bartender innovative cocktails such as clarified Bloody Mary from Flavia Arroyo (above) and coffee prepared by a former national barista champion.
Cavia 2985, Palermo Chico
A fresh-faced approach to wine service means Diviiino has fast become a hotspot for millennials since its September 2021 opening. Turning its allocated pavement plot into a twinkling urban garden, the 60-strong list includes five by-the-glass specials that change daily. It’s backed by a gourmet sub sandwich menu concocted by the Anafe team (see above). Well-priced and unusual vintages paired with a hipster soundtrack are the mainstay; give Alfredo Roca’s Glera from the often-overlooked San Rafael region a whirl, with the popular Korean fried tofu sandwich.
Arévalo 1478, Palermo Hollywood
Sister restaurant to legendary steakhouse Parrilla Don Julio, El Preferido de Palermo is equally venerable in its own right as a classic bodegón (tavern). Given an interior facelift four years ago, executive chef Guido Tassi constructed a glass-fronted charcuterie cellar, while the marble counter offers a window into chef Martín Lukesch’s kitchen, where he updates classic dishes. Start with prosciutto and bondiola before tackling the star turn of bife de chorizo milanesa (escalope). The thoughtful wine list composed by sommelier and owner Pablo Rivero strikes a balance between low-profile boutique producers (Livverá, Casa Yagüe, Nant y Fall) and big hitters.
Borges 2108, Palermo Soho
A historic 1930s watering-hole on the verge of permanently shuttering in 2015, Los Galgos (The Greyhounds) was rescued by sommelier Julián Díaz and designer Flor Capella. Retaining original details such as the wooden counter – which can surely tell a few stories – this bustling bar notable opens from breakfast to late-night drinks. Try the award-winning revuelto gramajo (ham and eggs). Few places allow classics such as Bodegas López’s Montchenot to rub shoulders with the likes of ultra-trendy Pintom Pét-Nat, but Los Galgos does. Also try La Fuerza vermouth, a side project by Díaz with winemaker Sebastián Zuccardi.
Callao 501, Congreso
After shuttering world-renowned Tegui last November, top chef Germán Martitegui swiftly opened his plant-based restaurant Marti a month later (on hold since March 2020). Tasty vegetarian small plates designed for sharing replace his tasting menu concept, enjoyed at the buzzy counter overlooking the open-plan kitchen and cocooned in a glasshouse. Here, sommelier Martín Bruno showcases his expertise, casting a wide net across Argentina then breaking styles down into aromatics, textures and silkiness. Gems include white blends Sierra Lima Alfa from Molinos and 45 Rugientes from Sarmiento, Chubut, as well as Per Se’s Inseparable Malbec. Service is undertaken by Leo Fernández Aquino.
Rodríguez Peña 1973, Caba
A champion of Argentina’s tiny producers, Naranjo mixes up 180 labels with vintages the team truly loves: a rainbow array to handpick from the coolers. A youthful wine-savvy crowd sips on low-intervention and skin-contact wines under the orange tree after which the bar named, sharing small plates of seasonally led dishes such as asparagus and porchetta. A DJ often spins vinyls at the former antique bathroom fixtures warehouse. The clued-in team (above) including chef Augusto ‘Aspi’ Mayer of now-shuttered Proper and former Tegui maître Nahuel Carbajo has ensured Naranjo’s success since its October 2020 opening.
Carranza 1049, Chacarita
Vino por copa used to be an afterthought at many restaurants – until Vico burst onto the scene. Importing wine dispensers gave head sommelier Pablo Colina the opportunity to showcase and regularly rotate around 80 styles and regions, giving tiny producers the chance to stand tall against the biggest names in a by-the-glass experience. The investment paid off as there are now four branches, including one in Mendoza city and Buenos Aires’ new Mercado de los Carruajes market.
Gurruchaga 1149, Villa Crespo
The latest offering from one of Argentina’s most active wine gurus, Aldo Graziani, who brought fellow sommelier and friend Luciano Sosto on board to open Vini. Curating the 70-strong list together, put yourself in Sosto’s hands to sample by the glass. Sash windows overlooking bustling Borges street give Vini Parisian airs; for a quieter experience, head upstairs to the adorable mezzanine. Delicious small plates, such as burrata with dill oil and lacto-fermented turnip, were created by Proper’s former chef Leo Lanussol. Open until midnight, so ideal for a nightcap.
Borges 1965, Palermo Soho