When I first moved to Argentina my personal wine consumption soared from what it had been in the US. This was mainly because wine is everywhere in Argentina, and it’s one of the cheapest drinks to buy at the local supermarket, especially if you are buying Zumuva (Which I was…)
Yes, that is boxed wine! And it shows just how little I knew about wine at that time. Now after living here for a few years my love for the drink has greatly increased, due in large part to Argentina’s most prized grape- Malbec. It wasn’t until I did some wine tastings in Buenos Aires and started noticing the labels of wine bottles that I became interested in Malbec. While those of you who live in Argentina or know anything about Argentine wine are most likely already big fans of the delicious grape, many of you might not know about its interesting history.
Domingo Faustino Sarmiento was a great Argentine president. Upon his death in 1888 he left behind a number of legacies, one of which (and the most important to those who love wine) was the development the country’s wine industry.
In 1853 Sarmiento heard the news of the innovative French agronomist, Michel Pouget, gaining praise for his unique wine-making techniques in Chile, and invited him to come revitalize Argentina’s wine industry. One of the grapes Pouget brought with him was Malbec, whose vines had originated in Cohors, France. In France the grape was known as Côt, but because of its poor resistance to pests and humidity, the grape never flourished as well in its native land. The flavor was so disagreeable in fact that it was given the nickname “mal bouche” or literally “bad mouth.” However this bad mouth turned out to be a shining success in Argentina, thanks to the dry climate and all that sunshine in Mendoza.
Another success of the Malbec is that this year it celebrated its 17th anniversary Malbec World Day on April 17th! I don’t know of another grape that claims an entire day all to celebrate just how wonderful it is. On Malbec World Day we all get to pay our respects to Sarmiento and Pouget for putting Argentina on the international wine map and have an excuse to drink some great wine! But really, who needs an excuse anyway?