With its unique fusion cuisine combining Andean, Latin American, European and Asian traditions, eating out in Lima is a world class experience. However, until recently, it was difficult to find a decent glass of wine. A new generation of sommeliers and wine importers are changing that.
Marco and Sabrina fell in love in Italy, in a slow food and wine bar in Parma. After marrying and returning to Sabrina’s native Peru, they were frankly quite depressed at the wine options. “There was no natural wine being sold in Peru,” says Marco, “so we started to import the wine we liked to drink!” Their modest import business began nine years ago with a select handful of natural wine producers in Italy. Today they import over 60 labels of natural wine from Europe and Latin America, providing local restaurants and stocking their own wine bar: a cosy, neighbourhood joint in Miraflores. La Gastronoma is a welcoming and lively place to drink wine and indulge in their other obsession – artisan cheeses sourced from small producers all over Peru.
La Gastronoma, Libertad 439, Miraflores.
Tues-Sat 12pm to 10pm, Mon 3pm to 10pm
One of the best restaurants in Latin America, Central is a once-in-a-lifetime experience delving into the native ingredients of Peru’s Amazon, Andes and coast under the expert hand of chef Virgilio Martínez. The artful 16-course menu creates dishes from different altitudes which are paired with an eclectic international or Latin American wine pairing. At the heart of Central is Mater, a research centre investigating the weird and wonderful native ingredients in Peru. The wine buying team here also goes above and beyond in sourcing their wines and spirits – with over 120 spirits and 650 wine labels, many of which are exclusively produced for Central. As a restaurant that heavily focuses on sourcing unique ingredients, it’s no surprise that they also make their own spirits – with an artisan distillery in Cuzco’s Sacred Valley.
Central, Av. Pedro de Osma 301, Barranco
Mon to Sat, 12.45pm to 1.30pm, 7.45pm to 8.30pm
Owner Andrés Orellana is both a chef and sommelier, and both wine and food play an integral part to La Niña. Selling only natural wines, La Niña has over 80 labels on its books from Latin America and Europe – most of which they import directly. As well as boasting one of the best wine lists in town, La Niña has top mixologist Luis Alza at the reigns of their colourful upstairs bar. Alza makes all the classics, but his original cocktails using wine as a base are the way to go. The lively vibe is ideal for a few drinks with friends on the terraza or upstairs bar, but make sure to step inside to experience the creative Peruvian cuisine or tasting menu paired with wine.
La Niña, Francisco de Paula Camino 299, Miraflores
Mon-Sat 12.30pm to 4pm, 7.30pm to 12pm
With almost 25 years at the top, Astrid y Gastón is one of the great disciples of Peruvian cuisine. The drinks team have also put a special emphasis on stocking an inspiring list of international and Latin American wines, which you can enjoy over dinner, or order by the glass or bottle at their wine patio downstairs. With a separate entrance to the restaurant, the wine bar is a great option for a few casual drinks with friends while sampling small bites from their exclusive bar menu. If you are in the mood for a cocktail instead, there are 25 original cocktails to choose from – all served under the beautiful Yunza tree.
Astrid y Gaston, Paz Soldan 290, San Isidro
Mon to Sat 1pm to 3pm, 7pm to 11pm. Sun 12.30pm to 3.30pm
The wine list in Olé isn’t the most extensive in the neighbourhood, but most people drop into this intimate bar and restaurant for a Capitan – a Peruvian equivalent of a Manhattan (based on red Vermouth and Pisco). Served ‘Hemmingway-style’, the Capital comes with a generous top-up on the side in ice. Small bites, simple but well-prepared dishes, relaxed music and attentive waiters, Olé has been a classic bar in San Isidro for over 22 years. The interior is designed as that of a boat, and after two or three Capitan’s you’ll understand why.
Olé, Pancho Fierro 109, San Isidro
Mon to Fri 12pm to 2am, Sat 6pm to 2am
The first ‘wine bar’ in Lima, La Esquina opened 18 years with five tables, one wine and a couple cheeses. The ethos of the owner Lucho was to make wine approachable and the wine bar remains the same, unpretentious bar to uncork a few bottles – no matter what you are wearing, who you are with, or what you order. Nowadays La Esquina boasts over 180 labels, 76 of which are served by the glass. They only sell one beer, and maybe a Pisco Sour if you twist their arm, but the focus here is on wine – and a laid-back bar vibe. Grab a stool, order some tapas and start working through their extensive cellar.
La Esquina, Calle Berlin 920, Miraflores
Mon to Sat, 6pm to 3am
Kjolle is a new addition to Lima’s exciting fine dining scene. The brainchild of Pía León (wife and business partner of Virgilio Martínez), Kjolle shares a postcode with Central but has a much more informal setting on the sunny terrace where beautiful dishes combine ingredients and flavours from all over Peru, served a la carte or as an 8-course tasting menu paired with South American wines. Kjolle shares the outstanding cellar of Central where you can pick from over 650 wine labels but it’s worth following the recommendations of somm Diego Vásquez Luque who has been working with local wine producers to bottle several wines that are exclusive to Kjolle – including an excellent unfiltered old vine Chenin from Ica. Arrive early to enjoy some adventurous cocktails in the Mayo bar downstairs (pictured top).
Kjolle, Av. Pedro de Osma 301, Barranco
Mon to Sat, 1pm to 3.30pm, 8pm to 10.30pm
With a bar established and built in a white mansion in 1927, the Country Club is an institution in Lima. This is an iconic building in San Isidro with expansive lobbies, swirling staircases and stained glass. Away from the buzz of the city, it offers the ideal spot to slip away for a quiet conversation with a few drinks. With some 270 wines on the list, there’s a large focus on South American wine, although you wouldn’t be forgiven if you don’t start the evening with their classic Pisco Sour.
Country Club, Calle Los Eucaliptos 590, San Isidro
Mon to Sun
One of the world’s top spots for Nikkei cuisine, Maido is a true destination restaurant in Lima. It’s no surprise that with world class cuisine comes a top notch wine list. As a seafood-based menu, the focus is heavily on white wines with dozens of international and Latin American options. The wine pairing for their 11-course tasting menu includes a few wine gems such as old vine Muscat from Chile and Argentina’s first coastal Sauvignon Blanc.
Maido, 399 San Martin, Miraflores
Mon to Sat, 12.30pm to 4pm, 7pm to 10.45pm, Sun 12.30pm to 5pm
For a little taste of Italy in Peru, head to Laviniteca where Italian compatriots Matteo (the owner) and Leone (the chef) run an excellent wine shop and deli. Matteo has sourced over 400 wine labels worldwide, with an emphasis on quirky regions in Italy, which can all be tasted by the glass at their informal wine bar. Leone will whip up a plate of fresh pasta to pair with your wine and you can also indulge in many Italian delicacies which they import directly from their homeland. La Vinoteca also has free wine delivery in Lima.
Laviniteca, Enrique Palacios 725, Miraflores
Mon to Sat, 10am to 8pm
Amanda Barnes is a freelance writer based in South America for the last decade where she publishes the South America Wine Guide and writes about the different wine regions for Decanter.