South America: Traditional and Unconventional Food Pairings

Coquiles of Grouper

As part one of our look at South America: Wine at Great Prices we helped you find unique wines at good value. Now that you have your wine, we will help you create excellent food and wine pairings.

Our food focus is on the top wine producing countries in South America: Argentina and Chile. The fundamental cuisine difference between the two countries is the popularity of seafood and meats. In the long, narrow country of Chile that lies along the Pacific Ocean, the focus is on seafood and in Argentina the traditional Gaucho-style meats prevail.

Food & Wine Recommendations from Chile

Ceviche Wine Pairing

ceviche wine pairingWith Chile’s access to fresh fish, Ceviche is frequently on restaurant menus and is a great option for parties as an appetizer.

Pair a crisp Sauvignon Blanc & Emeril Lagasse’s Ceviche

Pair the Ceviche with Ritual Sauvignon Blanc 2013  $19.99

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Best South American Wine Pairing for Pasta

Pasta with Sausage is the perfect food pairing with Carmenere wineChile’s signature red wine. Carmenere, has some spicy characteristics that pair well with sausage. This sausage is balanced with the combination of pasta, tomatoes and cheese.

Carmenere & Cooking Light’s Baked Pasta with Sausage, Tomatoes, and Cheese

Pair the Baked Pasta with: Los Vascos Grande Reserve Carmenere 2012 $19.00

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CarnitasOn a busy day, a few minutes is all you need for the preparation of Chile’s traditional carnitas dish. Place the ingredients in a slow-cooker and you can come home to an almost completed meal. We paired it with a Syrah that pulls out smoky flavors in both the carnitas and the wine.

Syrah & The Kitchn’s Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas

Pair the Carnitas with: Falernia Syrah Reserva 2011 $15.99

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Food & Wine Recommendations for Argentina

You will find some of the top South American Red Wine in Argentina.

The city streets of Mendoza are quiet on a Sunday afternoon, as many of the residents have gone into the mountains to prepare an asado with friends and family. An asado can be described as a feast from the grill filled with vegetables, chicken and meats.

Seared Scallops pairs well with South American red wineAn alternative to traditional surf and turf are seared scallops and steak that pair very well with Argentina’s signature wines of Torrontes and Malbec.

Torrontes & Alton Brown’s Seared Scallops

Pair the Seared Scallops with Alamos (Catena) Torrontes 2012  $10.99

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Best South American Food Pairings with Malbec

Gaucho steak ArgentinaMalbec & Francis Mallman’s Griddled Gaucho Steak with Bread-and-Basil Salad

Pair with a  2011 Catena Alta Malbec, $57.99

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Grilled Eggplant pairs with Malbec wine wellWhile most people immediately associate Argentina’s signature wine Malbec with steak, an excellent vegetarian option is eggplant.


*Vegetarian option: Argentina Malbec & Francis Mallman’s Grilled Eggplant & Tomatoes with Parmesan-Basil Crumbs

Pair with a  2011 Catena Alta Malbec, $57.99

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Lamb Chops is one of the best food pairings with MalbecIn this final food and wine pairing, we recommend the full-bodied Malbec-Cabernet Sauvignon blend with flavorful lamb chops.

Malbec-Cabernet Sauvignon Blend & Bon Appetit’s Mint & Cumin-Spiced Lamb Chops

Caro Amancaya 2012 $19.99

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We hope you enjoy playing with these pairings and if you wish to extend your South American cooking skills we suggest the following books. Buen Apetito!

Critically Acclaimed South America Cookbooks

Francis Mallmann is the number one chef in South America. Often on the lists of top 10 places to eat in the world, his two restaurants are in Argentina and one in Uruguay. In his latest book, Mallmann on Fire, he takes his cooking and grilling techniques around the world and in Seven Fires: Grilling the Argentine Way he provides traditional recipes from South America.

With more than 900 pages filled with details on traditional Latin American dishes and recipes, it is easy to understand why Gran Cocina Latina was the 2013 James Beard Foundation “Cookbook of the Year.” It is an impressive book for any amateur or inspiring chef interested in Latin American cuisine.


Courtney Quinn became the owner and wine importer of Our World, Our Community Wines after living in Mendoza, Argentina. She is currently studying for her level four exams through Wine and Spirits Education Trust and is a Certified Specialist of Wine by Society of Wine Educators. Courtney has certifications in the Business of Wine and holds a master’s degree from University of San Diego. Courtney and Tricia Conover were classmates at the Culinary Institute of America, Napa Valley, where they received their C.W.P. designations – Certified Wine Professional.



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