by Carolyn Ali on September 3, 2014
Suddenly, it appears—a dimly lit bar throbbing with locals drinking wine and house-made gin cocktails. As we squeeze our way through the room, the red glow of embers behind the long bar catches my eye. To my amazement, a chef is grilling rib-eye steaks and whole fish over blazing charcoal—underground.
That was at Floreria Atlantico, one of the city’s famous speakeasy-type bars accessed through a hidden entrance. Really, it shouldn’t have surprised me that in Argentina you can dine on a charcoal-grilled steak in the basement of a flower shop. After a week of touring the country’s wine regions, I’d already experienced plenty of things that I’m still trying to get my head around, including the typical Argentine dinner hour, which starts around 9 p.m. and can last through midnight, even when there are children in tow.
While I returned from Argentina with reams of crimson-stained tasting notes, it’s the culture and the landscape behind the bottles that made the biggest impression. Tasting wine in its country of origin is like having dinner with a person you’ve only emailed with: you finally put a place to a name and never look at the wine the same way again.