In the world of fine wine, Argentina is like a small town actress. Playing to local tastes has kept her from expressing her full potential, but with the right material (and good management), she may knock your socks off when she finally gets a chance on the big stage.
Argentina has produced great quantities of wine for a long time, and fine wine consumption here has traditionally been one of the highest in the world. Attitudes and tastes are changing, though, and domestic consumption has fallen to 41 liters per person per year (from a historic high of over 90 liters), and continues to fall. With massive production facilities already in place, Argentina already has much of the necessary infrastructure to make an international impact. The main challenge lies in adapting wine styles to more sophisticated tastes while keeping bottle prices very reasonable. At the same time, winemakers hope to create memorable wines with a modern, recognizably Argentinian stamp. If successful, these efforts promise terrific wines as well as the novelty interest to attract a profitable export trade.
Perhaps because Chile, its neighbor to the west, has moved so explosively into the modern wine scene (and been so visible in restaurants) in the last twenty years, Argentina wine is usually compared to its western neighbor, but the comparison can be misleading. Argentina has its own fascinating cultural identity, a distinct history, and a pair of promising varietals, the red Malbec and white Torront's, that make it unique among wine producers. Considering its grape-growing and winemaking resources, its potential is enormous.