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Christmas in Mendoza
Christmas comes early in Mendoza, with the main celebration taking place on the night of the 24th. Families gather in the early evening to begin the festivities with a spread of local savoury delicacies or a traditional asado, all of course in the company of a good Malbec, and then welcome in Christmas Day at midnight with sparkling wine and sweet treats. As the clock strikes 12, families and children step outside to take a look at the colourful display of fireworks which go off in every neighbourhood and Papa Noel (Father Christmas) sneaks in to leave a pile of presents under the tree.
After an hour or so of present unwrapping mayhem, the children go to bed and the festivities continue for the adults — either at home or in the local bars and clubs. Bed time doesn’t usually come much earlier that 4 or 5am, and so Christmas Day is rather more subdued — with a family meal, and usually another asado.
What to do during the holidays in Mendoza
The Christmas period is a busy time for tourism in Mendoza with many people choosing to spend their holidays in wine country. The city doesn’t feel overburdened though, as tourist season balances out with the exodus of locals who tend to head to the beach for their holidays at the same time.
Wineries are open almost every day (except for the 25th and 1st) and indulging in a multi-course wine paired meal overlooking the vines is the ideal way to celebrate the year gone past and toast in the New Year.
It’s also the best time of the year to explore the Andes mountains, as the rivers are at their fullest and the weather is pleasantly sunny and breezy for hikes, horsehides and mountain biking. The sparkling blue waters of Portrerillos dam are a big draw on the warmest of days and you’ll find people camped out on the shoreside having picnics, flying kites and lighting up a BBQ.
Mendoza’s festive foods & wine
Torrontés is the ideal white wine to refresh with in the summer time, with its flamboyant floral aromas and tropical fruit notes making it a perfect poolside sipper. It’s also a refreshing aperitif wine to serve with finger food and the local picada of charcuterie or summertime salads.
When it comes to pairing wine for the main meal, and especially as Christmas is in full-blown BBQ season, you’ll want to look to some of Mendoza’s great red wines. Malbec is the obvious choice, and the ideal partner for juicy steak or choripan, but Bonarda and Criolla are two other local wines which are very versatile and are best served chilled, making them perfect partners for festive lunches too.
Make sure to order in plenty of bubbles as well because everyone’s got a sweet tooth around Christmas time and ’tis the season for nougat and pan dulce. Although every family’s recipe has a slight variation, a chilled sparkling wine never goes amiss — nor does a temptingly sweet late-harvest Torrontes.
By Amanda Barnes