Valparaiso Food and Wine Tours
Explore Chilean food and wine in this cultural hub
Valparaiso is known as ‘the Jewel of the Pacific’ and sits just 75km west of Chile’s capital city Santiago. A bustling seaport with a slightly unruly, bohemian edge, its maze of hilltop houses, steep winding streets lined with art, and funicular railways helped it become a world heritage site at the turn of the century. It’s safe to say that its appeal as a tourist destination has been growing ever since. Throw excellent seafood and fine Chilean wine into the mix and you’ll quickly understand why this has become a hedonistic getaway for foodies.
Seafood is a must in Valparaiso, with salmon, reinata, merluza, crab and clams all caught fresh from the Pacific. Often accompanied with Chilean staples of corn, bread and potatoes, you’ll find these fish and shellfish on almost every menu in town. Although now limited in supply, concholepas - also known more simply as ‘loco’ - is a type of sea snail, similar to abalone, which is native to the Chilean coast. Typically you’ll find it served up with the local favourite sauce, as ‘locos con mayo’. However the locals also add them in to a hearty soup during the winter months.
Empanadas are popular all over South America, but these tasty stuffed pastries vary in filling depending on where you are. In Valpo it’s no surprise that theirs come with seafood, often stuffed with mussels, onions and clams or salmon and capers.
The Casablanca Valley, just inland of Valparaiso, is world renowned for producing excellent wines, despite the fact that many of its wineries have only been in operation since the 1980s. The coastal breeze across the mountains combine to create a cooler climate that allows grapes to mature slowly. Look out for local Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Syrah and Pinot Noir wines. All are delicious, great value for money and offer all the variety you could want when it comes to choosing an accompaniment to your lunch and dinner.
If wine isn’t to your taste then naturally, you can’t leave Chile without partaking in one or two pisco sours. Pisco is a popular drink in this part of the world, made from a muscat grape liqueur, lemon juice, sugar and whisked egg whites.
Valparaiso has long attracted artists, poets and bohemians. Its steep hills and colourful houses are calling out to be explored. As long as you’re prepared to wander, making regular stops at cafes and street corner bars for pisco sours, tasty seafood and strong cups of coffee is a great way to spend time during any foodie adventure. Visit the Mercado Cardonal and pick up an empanada, enjoy a plate of fresh ceviche by the sea, and appreciate one of Chile’s lesser-known foodie hotspots.