Free Wine Everywhere!
It’s true, all over Mendoza you can find free wine. Although I didn’t go into McDonalds to see if the combo meal included wine, all other restaurants included wine with combo meals (choice of water, soda or wine). My hostel, where I paid a small fee of $14 for my dormitory bed which included a big breakfast and, now get this, it included free unlimited wine from 7 to 8 pm in the evening! I spent three days in this beautiful city drinking wine and enjoying the jovial spirit of the locals.
Vineyard Wine Tours
The big activity to do in Mendoza is touring the vineyards. Tourists have two main options: a full-fledged tour with a guide for $40, or the backpacker, budget traveler option of renting a bike for the day and riding from vineyard to vineyard. Bike rental was 100 pesos (about $6) so I opted for the later. Some vineyards offered free self-guided tours while others charged small fees. I think there were about seven or eight vineyards on the small map we were given with the bike rental. I had met some Germans while riding on the bus to the area and decided to follow them on their drunken quest of wine to see a modern, state-of-the-art vineyard and an old, family owned vineyard. This turned out to be a delightful and interesting choice. We road our bikes in perfect weather to the first vineyard to follow a self-guided tour which comprised of plaque type signs by a platform overlook of the vineyard and signs by giant, polished chrome containers of wine. We chose to have have lunch on the terrance over looking the vineyard. Letting my stomach get the better of me, I opted for a big Argentinian steak dinner with veggies and three glasses of their best wine. The total cost? $13! The second vineyard was family owned and smaller and founded on strong philosophies about “energy,” “love,” and “nature.” The entire vineyard was run and operated by family members and one of the daughters gave us a tour for 45 pesos ($3) explaining how the energy of the family and their positive intentions were transferred to the wine. She smiled and laughed a lot and it was very contagious, so maybe there is something to what she says. Either that, or perhaps she just had too much wine with her lunch before we arrived. Who knows?
Costs in Mendoza, Argentina
Although costs were high most everywhere for food, wish a little effort I was able to find specials each day known as “menu de dia (menu of the day)” which included an four bread rolls, a meat dish with potatoes, rice and a small portion of veggies, and–you guessed it– free wine!
Hostel: $14/night (shared dorm) including breakfast
Food: typically $8-$12 meal for lunch or dinner (I paid $6 for menu de dia lunch and made my own sandwiches for dinner). My friday splurge meal hamburger and milkshake was $12.