In the capital of one of South America's leading wine-producing countries, the natural wine scene has never been so effervescent. In bars, restaurants, and specialty shops, Santiago, Chile has become a growing destination for wine aficionados looking for additive-free bottles.
For years, the words “Chile” and “natural wine” were far from synonymous. That's changing now thanks to wine labels such as Viñedos Herrera Alvarado, Louis-Antoine Luyt, El Viejo Almacén, and many more. These wineries are helping realize the potential of this beautiful country, bordered by the Pacific on one side and the Andes on the other, to produce natural wines—and serve rising market demand.
Reflecting this increasingly exciting wine production in the field, many places are willing to embrace the natural movement focusing on lists full of great options from organic or biodynamically grown grapes in the country. You should be drinking these Chilean wines no matter where you are in the world, and wines like Luyt's Pipeño series have a growing fanbase thanks to natural wine bars and bottle shops in the United States, UK, Europe, Australia, and Asia.
But as always there's something fun about visiting the country for yourself, and drinking across Santiago—Chile's hip, teeming capital—offers a range of smart options of bars and restaurants for the natural wine lover. Here, we offer a guide to local spots where it is possible to taste the best of them.
This bar, located in the party-centered and crowded region of Bellavista, has a wine list to pair with its rich charcuterie and heartier food options—like Chilean chilota potato crisp with uni, artisanal bacon, and salsa verde. The wine options change every week and include sparkling, white, and red, always in different varieties. The selection goes from small to large wineries and encompasses excellent options, such as the red grape Ladrón (made with país grape) and the white A Los Viñateros Bravos (something like To All the Brave Winemakers, in a literal translation). There are also many options of wines by the glass.
Located in the hip region of Vitacura, chef Benjamin Nast's restaurant has a wine list dominated by natural wines that blend well with the fresh and inventive food options prepared in his kitchen—always focused on seafood and with a charming Spanish-Asian accent. One of the best restaurants in town, De Patio serves three different tasting menus that can be paired with the local wine selections, with some specialties of the country, like Cuervo de Vaca (from Viñedos Herrera Alvarado, in Quilpué, one hour northwest of the city) and even a local organic cider, Sidra Lo Orozco, produced in Quilpué.
Les Dix Vins
Les Dix Vins is a wine bar but also a store, which means it's a perfect place to buy some bottles and to stay longer to taste the selections of the week—washing down a slice of great French cheese or the freshest oysters, among other snack options. Les Dix Vins also offers classes and free tastings, highlighting garage wineries, such as Viña Villalobos. The bottles come primarily from Chile, of course, and France, but there are some selections from other countries, like Spain and Italy.
In this traditional wine bar with more than a decade of history, the natural wines began to gain more prominence, with more and more options for those who frequent the uptown neighborhood of Lastarria. With one of the best lists in town (more than 300 bottles), it's a casual space for a glass of wine after work or even a nightcap—there's always a waiting line, which goes unnoticed with a glass of Calyptra or Pedro Parra in hand. Ask for biodynamic bottles and be sure to order food here, with many plates on the menu designed for sharing.
Rafael Tonon is a freelance journalist based in Brazil. Read more Rafael Tonon for Sprudge Wine.
Top image © Diego Grandi/Adobe Stock