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Santiago Chile: Uncorked

Nature’s beauty paired with great wine and food makes Chile’s wine country a memorable destination.

I had the pleasure of traveling to Buenos Aires, Argentina, and Santiago, Chile, a few years ago.  While in Santiago, I was fortunate to find Uncorked Wine Tours which gave us an unforgettable experience.

We had a great time in Buenos Aires, taking several walking tours and enjoying the wine, the steaks, and, most of all, the pizza!  Yes, Argentine pizza!  If you are a pizza lover and have not had Argentine pizza, I strongly suggest you do so!

Wine Country Excursion

After a few days in Buenos Aires, we took a flight to Santiago. Unlike Buenos Aires, which is a fabulous city to walk around, Santiago tends to be more spread out, so we decided it would be best to book a couple tours, including a visit to wine country.  We were really fortunate to learn about Uncorked Wine Tours, which is highly-rated on TripAdvisor.

Uncorked Wine Tours is a wine-tourism agency with nine years of experience.  With Uncorked, we scheduled a trip to the Colchagua Valley to visit several wineries. We could have gone to a local winery in Santiago, or chosen to travel to the Casablanca Valley, which is less than an hour away, but decided to visit the Colchagua Valley, where some of the classic Chilean wines are produced.

The trip to the valley took around two hours each way but Uncorked made it enjoyable.  We had a terrific driver who stopped along the way at a local market to give us a taste of the countryside.

Wines Rich in Character

Then we visited three terrific wineries — the absolutely stunning Clos de Alpata, which produces Casa Lapostolle‘s iconic wine, Clos Alpata. Incredibly, this winery spans five levels deep and is 100% gravity-fed with three levels buried into the granite hillside of Apalta. This design naturally cools an environment perfectly suited for cellaring and aging wine. The wine flows down naturally at every stage of production preserving the flavors of the wine rather than using conventional pumping methods. We also learned that the grapes at this winery are de-stemmed by hand, a technique only a handful of wineries in the world perform.

Next, we visited Vina Neyen, where we tasted their namesake blend of Cabernet Savignon and Carmenere wines. The vines of this winery were planted in 1890 and they’re still producing high quality grapes. The resulting fine vintages are due to the vines deep roots that come with age.

Our last stop was at Vina Viu Manent, which offers a variety of wines and houses Rayuela Restaurant, which was absolutely wonderful with its grilled food and variety of side dishes. What could be better than delicious food, fine wine, great company, and a panoramic view of the Apalta hills? It’s hard to beat and made an incredible finale of our tour.

Then it was time for the long drive back to our hotel.  About half way there, our driver pulled off the main road onto a dirt road, pulled over, and took out a wonderful bottle of wine, which made the rest of the trip go by pretty quickly.

Experiencing the Flavors of Chile

We had such a great time on the tour that we decided to call the owner, Jose Miguel, and asked if Uncorked offered any other tours in Santiago. Jose recommended their cooking class, one of their most popular options, for our last day in town.  We decided to take his advice, and are so glad we did, as this was the highlight of our stay.

We met our chef, Pancho, outside of the Central Market at 9am.  The day started with a tour of Mercado Central (the Central Market), which is a fresh fish market that is rated by National Geographic as one of the top ten food markets in the world!  Pancho showed us around the market, bought a few items, and purchased a fresh fish that would be used later to make ceviche.

Next, we visited the nearby La Vega (the Farmer’s Market), where we were able to check out some of the local cuisine and experience the wonders of fresh produce. After the experience, feeling like locals, we traveled by taxi to their Cooking Workshop, which is located in a section of town known as Barrio Italia, where we prepared a typical Chilean meal for lunch in a homey and stylish environment.

We started with learning how to make, and enjoyed, Pisco Sours, which put us in a great mood for the real cooking.  Next, we prepared an appetizer called Pebre with Sopaipillas, which was fried dough served with a local salsa.  Of course, Pancho opened a bottle of wine as we continued to cook.  Next, we learned how to prepare ceviche, as well as a couple different types of empanadas.

 

We then sat down and enjoyed our fabulous lunch, followed by Leche Alsada (a Chilean flan or crème brulee), that was wonderful.  We were absolutely stuffed, and after saying our goodbyes, we went back to our hotel and promptly passed out!

Uncorked was awesome — we had a wonderful time and enjoyed our stay in Santiago!

We learned so much on our trip to Chilean wine country. Their wines have become contenders on the world stage even rivaling French wines. I suggest you try some Chilean wine and see for yourself. And when in Chile, get a deeper experience of wine country with a guided tour. Learn more about Uncorked Wine Tours at www.uncorked.cl.