The massive Ruta 40, or Route 40, is a once in a lifetime road trip that treks through all of Argentina. The 5,000 kilometre “mythical” journey encounters some rough roads (especially for those who intend on travelling the complete distance) but it has sights and scenery that will absolutely take your breath away. Sights, however, are not the only dazzling wonder a traveller encounters on their voyage down the epic Route 40; what will also leave you speechless is the quality of staple Argentine drinks and cuisines!
It is an absolute necessity to make a pit stop on Route 40 (or two or three) and enjoy all the luxuries which the Argentina wine road has to offer. The Argentina wine road, referring to the 2,000 kilometres of vineyards that surround the Andes Mountains, can attribute its exceptional flavour to its wineries’ high altitudes.
One region you will definitely not want to miss is Mendoza – one of the eight wine capitals in the world as well the region responsible for over 70% of Argentina’s wine production! The best time to explore Mendoza is between January and March when all of their wine festivals and events take place. Mendoza’s signature wine is the intense and fruity red Malbec.
If white wine is your drink of choice then plan a stop in Cafayate – home of Torrontes wine. Sip on a luxurious glass of Torrontes (or indulge in wine flavored ice cream from the local heladeria) all while taking in the red Conchas Canyons, plentiful greenery, and other grand landscapes which Cafayate has to offer.
Another place to enjoy great wine with views to match is the San Juan province. At a San Juan winery, you can experience not only a specialty glass of Syrah, but also a spectacular view of two Argentine national parks, Valle de la Luna (Ischigualasto) and Talampaya.
An alternative drink with an edge is the caffeinated Yerba Mate. The popular tea drink is presented in a metal mate (base cup) and bombilla (straw). This Argentine specialty is a perfect pick-me-up for the extensive road travelling as well as a unique South American souvenir.
What would Argentina’s fine wine be without the company of fine food? The South American country is home to a ravishing assortment of signature dishes that cover all the bases in terms of flavour and texture – all of which you can expect to find amongst your lengthy travels down Route 40. Certain dishes are more prevalent in some regions than others. Locro is a national corn and potato based stew that is very typical to find in northern regions, especially Cuyo. The farther south you venture, the more likely you are to encounter seafood based dishes. Rio Gallegos, one of Route 40’s most southern points, is a seafood lover’s dream.
Connecting Argentina’s north and south tips, Route 40 is the country’s true backbone. Along this 5,000 kilometer road, one will get a good taste of Argentina – both figuratively and literally. The landscapes and sights are ones you will never forget and the renowned wines and dishes are ones you will never want to finish!
By Morgan Lamb