This event is but one of a million reasons why I love Wong.
Wong is one of the supermarkets here in Lima and to be honest it is by far the best. The staff, the food, their customer service, and the fact that I can buy and consume an ice cream while I shop, is what gives me such a high opinion of them.
Every year they put on an event to showcase the best wines in Latin America and also wines from the rest of the world that are available in Peru. This year it was from the 16th-18th October (last weekend) and there were over 800 wines and 200 kinds of pisco to try. Each vineyard or label has a stand showcasing the best of their wines and you are invited to taste a sample from whichever bottles tempt you in. Having lived in Lima for almost 2 years now I have tried a fair amount of South American wine and I was also lucky enough to attend the event last year too. Both of these things meant that this year I could really focus in on the wines I had yet to try, or wines that are perhaps not as widely available or normally too expensive to purchase by the bottle.
The selection of wines is enormous and it is absolutely impossible to be able to try everything, so it’s best to try and narrow them down. You would think that perhaps reducing your choices to some of the wines that had won medals would be a good place to start. However, we found that some of the bottles that had won the higher prizes were not for tasting (including one bottle that cost S/1000). Also, some of the popular wines only had display bottles, and none for us to actually taste, although they had been available in the previous days, perhaps suggesting that the vineyard had only provided a small selection of bottles for tasting.
We tasted a lot of wines (red, white, rose and sparkling), so in this article I am just going to talk about some of the wines that really stood out for us as being some of the best, and a sparkling wine that we thought would be perfect for summer. I will also mention some great options that have been tried and tested during my stay here and are also readily available in Wong.
I’d like to point out that these are my opinions and therefore just an idea of what to expect. After all, I am not a sommelier!
Rioja, Beronia Reserva 2009 from Ollauri, Spain
We tried the Crianza, which was much softer in flavour, and the Gran Reserva, which was much more intense and strong. The Reserva provided a nice balance between the two, with a much smoother feeling in the mouth than the Gran Reserva, but more flavourful and fruitier than the Crianza.
Petit Verdot, Ruca Malen Reserva 2012 from Mendoza, Argentina (their Malbec is also amazing)
Ruca Malen means ‘House of the Young Woman’ in the local Mapache language.
I had never tried a Petit Verdot before and my introduction to it was fantastic. A peppery but fruity wine that had a smooth finish. Most enjoyable!
Malbec, Kinien (also from Bodega Ruca Malen) 2009 from Mendoza, Argentina
Possibly one of the nicest bottles of Malbec I have tried. Very smooth and has a deep black fruit taste and aroma. A beautiful, beautiful wine. Dense but sweet and velvety at the same time.
Malbec, Las Moras Black Label OR Las Moras Reserva from San Juan, Argentina
I am a huge fan of Las Moras Malbec, as the Black Label was one of the first red wines I truly loved. This has been my red wine of choice from the moment I first tasted it a couple of months after I started living in Lima, although the Reserva is a very good alternative if the Black Label is not in sale! The first time you take a sip of the Black Label Malbec, you immediately taste hints of chocolate, and then after that the dark forest berries, like blackberry, come through. The flavouring is perfect, considering that Las Moras literally translates as ‘the blackberries’. A truly amazing wine.
Sauvignon Blanc, Errazuriz Estate Series Reserva 2013 from the Aconcagua region in Chile
This was an excellent Sauvignon Blanc. Reminiscent of the flavours and citrus notes of Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand, but with a taste that leaves your mouth salivating as it fills with an intense juiciness. It is like you have actually bitten into a sour apple or tropical fruit and are left with those lingering fruity juices. So refreshing.
Torrontes, Alta Vista Premium 2013 from their vineyard in Salta, Argentina
Another variety of wine I had not tried before but I am so glad that I finally did. It was fresh, crisp, and refreshing. It had a light fruity flavour with floral notes but without being full of perfume. I imagine it would be perfect with a light fish dish in the summer months.
Codorníu Brut Blanc de Blancs “Anna” from Catalonia, Spain.
From the famous Spanish Cava winery, this Brut is named after one of the members of the Codorníu family; the last member in fact to use the Codorníu name (Codorniu website – click 1984 on the timeline). The Brut is dry, full of fine bubbles, and has a citrusy flavour. Very pleasurable to drink and I believe it would suit a different number of dishes, both sweet and savoury.
The next one I have chosen is just because I feel it is a delicious and fun sparkling wine that is perfect for summer.
Chandon Délice from Argentina
I say fun, because Chandon recommend you drink Délice with ice and a choice of garnish that flavours the wine almost instantly. You can either choose cucumber, strawberry, orange peel, basil or blueberry. Each garnish gives the wine a distinctly different tone of flavour. The orange peel for example gives a sweet but citrusy note, and the blueberry a sweetness. It’s an interesting concept that I think people will enjoy experimenting with!
Once we knew what wine we loved the most, we headed to Wong’s onsite wine store to purchase our favourites. This store was a big tent jam packed full of wines and pisco. Unfortunately the Alta Vista Torrentes had sold out, but I managed to get the Errazuriz Sauvignon Blanc for around S/33.
Wine was not the only product available for tasting, because there was also a ‘Salon de Pisco’ where you could sample different brands of pisco from all over Peru. In fact, some stands not only offered samples, but mixed up chilcanos so that you could taste the pisco mixed into a cocktail.
We already have some favourite brands of pisco that have become our “go to” for celebrations or drinks with friends (Biondi, Vinas de Oro, or Cuatro Gallos), but at the ‘Salon de Pisco’ we discovered some new options. One of which was Qollqe Mosto Yema Acholado. I had not tried many different brands of pisco alcholado, but this one was excellent. It was very smooth going down and very aromatic; definitely a bottle I would highly recommend.
I also managed to purchase an almost half price bottle of Pisco Portón (normally around S/115) in the Wong store at the event, which was an amazing deal for a beautiful bottle of Mosto Verde Quebranta. Unfortunately this was an event-only deal, so it might be a while before another deal like that comes along.
Another thing that made me very happy at Expo Vino is that I found out that Fever Tree mixers from the UK are now available to buy in Peru. They produce fantastic mixers like tonic water and ginger ale. The latter has a much stronger taste and more heat than some of the ginger ale available here and is just perfect mixed with pisco for a Chilcano cocktail.
Finally, I must mention the food. Naturally.
Expo Vino offered a wide range of food options. You could be cheap and cheerful with free water crackers stationed around the event stands, or pay around S/250 for a tasting menu of food and their perfectly matching wines. Whatever price was good for you, Wong provided something!
We started with a sausage in a bun with sauerkraut from Otto Kunz in the ‘Salon Gourmet’ (where a few other food stalls were selling meats and cheeses) to keep us going until an early dinner was needed. For this we headed to Granja Azul, a local restaurant here in Lima, who had opened a special restaurant on-site just for the event. It is a well recognised restaurant and their food lived up to their great reputation. We shared a set menu of 1/4 baby chicken, 2 anticuchos, chips, salad and a drink and it only set us back S/43, which was an extremely good price for the quality of food. The anticuchos were some of the best I have ever tasted, the chicken was juicy and tender, and the chips were thick cut (just how I like them) and fluffy inside.
Expo Vino is the perfect event for the wine (or pisco) lover, so if you missed out this year keep your eyes peeled for next year and get hold of a ticket. Prices for this year were I believe S/150 for a day ticket, with the day starting at 11am and finishing at 10pm.
Thank you Wong, see you next year!