In my country, an average bottle of wine costs US$15-20. You wouldn’t drink wine with your meals. Heck, grape juice was a luxury when I was growing up because juice isn’t cheap either.
Chile is, in comparison, ridiculous. At some point, I caught myself at the supermarket in a twist over if I should get a good wine for a dollar more. Why is that even a choice when it’s easily a $10 difference back home for the quality gap?
Eventually, I learnt that the rule of thumb was that wine under $2 was horrid. Anything $5 or more is luxury.
Water Water Everywhere
Wine was cheaper than water. Everyone knew that party trick where you can cleave the top off bottles with a knife. If you failed, that’s just $2 (although you’d probably filter and drink it all anyway). We had a Masterchef edition in Singapore where a finalist didn’t know how to uncork a bottle of wine. That’s what we’re dealing with.
While in Santiago, I wanted to visit a vineyard. The nearest one was Maipu but Concha y Toro seems to be the revered one. It costs slightly less than $20 for a tour and it was near enough to the city to be a day trip.
To get there, you’d take a 45 minute metro ride to the end of line 4 at Plaza de Puente Alto. From there, the viña is about 2km away.
This was one of those times where lugging around a unicycle actually made some sense. The surroundings were far enough from the city to be a fun diversion. I got to see a bit of suburban Santiago and didn’t have to go out of my way to do so.
I See You
Along the way I passed by a circus club where a bunch of kids were doing everything but unicycling. I had to join them for a while just because.
I was actually expecting some other smaller vineyards or farmland or something but it seemed like Concha y Toro was the only one out there. I parked my unicycle by the guardhouse where a few of the staff seemed interested enough to have me demonstrate the basics.
Now I have to repeat that I come from a country where Yakult is the leading culture, not wine. I’m not even going to pretend that I know what a good red wine is supposed to be like.
We were led through the vineyard to the cellars where we were introduced to the Casillero del Diablo. Everyone felt obliged to buy a bottle because it was tasty (and alcoholic. And cheap.) and had a good back story. We each had a keepsake glass which would prove perilous to keep safe on a backpacking trip. I did bring back in one piece anyway and would prove very useful throughout the trip.
A good part of the afternoon was spent at the restaurant where there’s some kind of dance performance. I can’t emphasize enough how much of a relaxed environment this is. If I were a Chilean kid, my ambition in life might just be to be a dancer at Concha y Toro.
With enough wine in me and bottles for the journey, I collected my unicycle to ride off into the sunset. There weren’t too many taxis waiting for passengers given its the off-season. I think the arrangement to ride by unicycle paid off because the cab ride would have paid off another decent bottle of red.