Wine in Peru dates all the way back to the arrival of the Spanish on the shores of Peru. They could live without their grapes and wine production. The first vineyards in South America were planted near Cusco, Peru, but the most prominent ones of the 16th and 17th century was those that were established near Ica Peru.
Ica is the place you want to be when you want to try wine. It is the capital of wine growing in Peru and where you’ll find vineyards producing the best wine. Apart from wine production, Ica is a great vacation spot with giant sand dunes.
Peru is greatly known for Pisco or Pisco sour, a spirit and drink popular in the region. When talking about Peruvian wine it’s impossible not to talk about Pisco. It is rare for a winery to produce wine without producing what has come to be known as a national drink- Pisco. It is a type of brandy that is distilled from fermented juice or wine. One of the key elements of Pisco is that it cannot be aged in wooden barrels like most spirits.
There are five Peruvian wine regions;
- The Peruvian North Coast Wine Region
- The Peruvian Central Coast Wine Region (the most popular vineyards)
- The Peruvian South Coast Wine Region
- The Andean Sierra Wine Region of Peru
- The Selva Wine Region of Peru
You’ll notice that majority of Peru’s vineyards are located in the central coastal region. The wineries in Peru are referred to as bodegas. The best known for pisco which is popular in Peru are bodega Tacama and bodega Vista Alegres. The Central Coast wine region is popularly known as the best since it receives cool air from the offshore ocean breeze and its high altitude.
Now let’s have a look at grapes. The main grapes grown in Peruvian vineyards include:
- Quebranta (the original Pisco grape variety)
- Mollar (non-aromatic grape variety)
- Uvina (non-aromatic)
- Negra Criola (non-aromatic)
- Alicante Bouschet
- Sauvignon Blanc
- Carbernet Sauvignon
One thing you need to know about Peruvian wine is that you shouldn’t exactly expect the flavor of wine you’re used to. Most Peruvian wines taste very sweet which may catch you off-guard when you’re expecting a specific taste. The sweetness of the Peruvian wine is largely attributed to the climate. The region rarely has rain or clouds because of the cold water coming up from the Antarctica and the Andes mountains to the east of the region. Historically, the desert climate has been more conducive to producing pisco which is Peru’s drink of choice.
You’ll also struggle to find Peruvian wine outside of Peru. There are a few importers in the United States, but Peruvian wine is rarely exported to Europe or elsewhere.
Wine Tasting at Bodega Tacama Ica, Peru
Tacama is the oldest vineyard in South America having started in 1540. The vineyard started as a monastery and then turned to a commercial vineyard. It grows 20 varieties of grape. The harvesting happens from December till March. It is a beautiful vineyard with a restaurant and garden making it very gorgeous.
Wine Tasting at Bodega Vista Alegre
Established in 1857 and occupying 180 hectares Vista Alegre is one of the best known winery in Ica. Tasting in this bodega includes wines and several piscos. It was originally a Jesuit monastery until 1857 when it was converted to a winery.
Best Peruvian Wines
Peru is still finding its feet when it comes to wine varieties. Here are some of the best Peruvian wine brands.
- One is Pepe Moquillaza which is tawny colored with complex aromas and an attractive structure.
- Ancellotta from Vista Alegre works well in Ica and has a spicy finish and good acidity for the warmer climate there. It goes so well with rich stew dishes.
- Petit Verdot is a top wine from the oldest winery in Peru, Tacama.
- Lugra Negra rose has a refreshing, salty pink and an attractive red fruit to balance out the salinity characteristic.
- Sauvignon Blanc has lots of bright citrus and white fruit making it a very quaffable white to pair with ceviche and summer time.
Wine and pisco don’t really taste the same but pisco is also made from grapes so you may end up liking it.
Without a doubt, whether you’re a huge wine fan or you like to sip now and again, wine is something worth trying when in Peru. You’ll be surprised at how it tastes different from other wines you’ve tried and just how good it is. When travelling don’t forget take a bottle home to reminisce about your time in Peru or share with family and friends.