No snow or holiday season stops true wine aficionados from tasting a new set of wines to be introduced into the local market.
Last week, the Argentina Embassy showcased seven new wines on a day the city had been digging itself out of a 10-cm snowfall just 12 hours previously.
“Our wines are famous everywhere,” said the newly arrived Argentina Ambassador Carlos Alberto Arganaraz.
“We are among the five greatest producers of wine in the world, we have a very long tradition in producing wines and now the export of Argentine wines is increasing all over the world,” he told The Korea Herald.
Argentine wine, as with some aspects of Argentine cuisine, has its roots in Spain.
Argentina Ambassador Carlos Alberto Arganaraz with a glass of vino in the cellar of Buenos Ares restaurant (Yoav Cerralbo/The Korea Herald)
During the Spanish colonization of the Americas, vine cuttings were brought to Santiago del Estero in 1557, and the cultivation of the grape and wine production stretched first to neighboring regions, and then to other parts of the country.
In South Korea, the market has grown into a $2 million dollar a year industry for the Latin American producer, and Arganaraz hopes that the wine tasting event last week at Buenos Aires Restaurant in Gangnam, Seoul, assisted importers looking to expand their wine portfolio.
To make the event more interesting and demonstrate how Argentine wine accompanies meat and seafood dishes, lunch was prepared using traditional Argentine recipes. The event was further enlivened with a tango show.
“Our wines go well with Korean barbeque dinners and relate very well with fish and seafood,” Arganaraz said.
The labels introduced were from mostly the Mendoza region, which is Argentina’s most important region for producing wines, and the Salta region in the north of the country.
Mendoza Province produces more than 60 percent of Argentine wine and is the source of an even higher percentage of the total exports.
Due to the high altitude and low humidity of the main wine producing regions, Argentine vineyards rarely face the problems of insects, fungi, molds and other grape diseases that affect vineyards in other countries.
This allows cultivation with little or no pesticides, meaning even organic wines are easily produced.
“Each region has special characteristics due to the altitude, soil and climate, so the Argentine wines are known because of their perfume, color and taste,” said Arganaraz.
There are many different varieties of grapes cultivated in Argentina, reflecting the country’s many immigrant groups.
As for Argentine beef, the ambassador explained that both countries are working on trade and hopes to see it delivered to these shores in the “near future.”
But, recently, the hottest Argentine product being sipped in Korea is yerba mate, the national drink of Argentina.
It is prepared by steeping dried leaves of yerba mate, a shrub or small tree, in hot water.
The drink is also enjoyed in Paraguay, Uruguay and southern Brazil.
It is supposed to aid mental stimulation, fatigue reduction, stress reduction, insomnia elimination, appetite control, body immunization, blood detoxification, nervous system toning, restoration of hair color and preservation of youth.
“We would like also to bring in fruits, and vegetables, they are important too,” said Arganaraz.
By Yoav Cerralbo (firstname.lastname@example.org)