Why You Should Never Pour Wine With Your Left Hand In Argentina

Empanadas, high-quality beef, bright and fragrant chimichurri, and alfajores are amongst Argentina's most iconic foods, but their beverages have garnered even more notoriety abroad. While yerba mate has caught traction as a tasty iced tea-like bottled beverage in North America (without the established drinking ritual carrying over), Argentinian wine has taken a leading role in the international beverage scene. Malbecs, Argentine chardonnays, and sauvignon blancs are the most popular red and white wines featured on menus and in wine shops around the world.

Wine, along with yerba mate, is a symbol of togetherness, friendship, and celebration in Argentina. Sharing a bottle of wine is a frequent occurrence at Argentine parrilladas, where families gather weekly to roast meat and share a meal. It's a common gift to bring to a dinner party and is always offered by the bottle or glass at a restaurant or bar.

If you ever find yourself sipping a delicious bottle in Argentina, there are certain customs to follow. A frowned-upon serving method in Argentinian wine etiquette is pouring wine with your left hand. When serving wine, the correct way to hold the bottle is around the widest part just below the neck with the right hand. Holding the wine bottle underhanded, palm-up by the bottom is considered pouring it backward. Both backward pouring and using your left hand to pour would be considered poor taste by the person you're drinking with.

Wine culture in Argentina

Despite the specific rules associated with serving wine, wine culture is not at all pretentious in Argentina. As a large producer of wine, Argentina's wine culture is an ode to the common man. Bottles of wine are generally very cheap and are always enjoyed at family gatherings. The most famous red wine, Malbec, hails from the Argentian province of Mendoza and is a full-bodied, rich, fruity wine that stands up to the robust flavors of umami-rich red meat commonly served at parilladas or asados.

The robust flavors of Malbec also pair well with rich, creamy, and sharp cheeses like blue cheese, brie, and gorgonzola. A breaded and fried steak milanesa or a thick, doughy stuffed pizza called fugazzeta are other rich and delicious dishes that would pair wonderfully with a glass of Malbec.

If you're a fan of white wines, Argentina's floral and fruity Torrontes is a lesser-known local treasure that pairs well with fish and savory flakey pies known as tartas. It will also provide a refreshing pairing for spicy dishes and umami-rich pork dishes. While Torrontes and Malbec are the most famous Argentinian wines, Argentina also produces cabernets, sauvignon blancs, chardonnays, and bonarda, another Argentinian native grape that's even fruitier and more acidic than Malbec.