Portillo boasts a spirited drinking culture. If you put the pieces together, it totally makes sense: Chile is the world’s fifth largest exporter of wine, and Mendoza, home of the Malbec, is right next-door. Add a mountain man’s fondness for aprés-ski to these geographical (and cultural) considerations, and you get a hotel that honors the beverage and those who drink it. But don’t get me wrong, Portillo is not a frat party and canned beer is a rarity – a “specialty” I’ve only enjoyed in my Siberia. The drinks of choice here are premium Pisco sours and fine wines. Considering our location, how couldn’t they be?
This week, however, Portillo is all about WINE. Good wines from all over Chile. Remember Wine Week from July? Well now it’s late August, we’re entering the season’s final stretch, and we’ve renamed it WINE FESTIVAL. Is this week any different from our last vino extravaganza? Of course not! With nightly wine tastings and giveaways from such vineyards as Casas del Bosque (Sunday), Concha y Toro (Monday), and Anakena (Tuesday), what is there to improve? Only the most naïve and intrepid drinkers, and I’m mostly talking about gringos my age, would want more free alcohol. Let us not forget that skiing is still the (adult) priority. But speaking of skiing, free booze, and good times, and I hope I’m not out of line here, allow me to outline Sunday.
9am to 5pm - Ski Portillo (maybe a beer at lunch?)
5pm to 6 pm – “Once,” meaning Tea and Coffee
6:30pm to 7:30pm – Wine Tasting of Casa del Bosque
8pm to 9pm – Welcome Cocktail (pisco, more wine, pisco, wine)
10pm- 2am – Bar/Disco/Posada migration
My point is that here, in a little place called Portillo, the beer flows like wine. Moreover, this week the beer is wine! To be honest I’ve yet to attend a tasting this season. I enjoyed my share last year, and, if things are going my way, I’m working by then anyways. From the desk, all I observe is the crowd of well-dressed people trolling the lobby, waiting for the doors to open. Then, an hour later, I get to salute the purple-lipped passersby, who are already asking to sign up for tomorrow. Que bueno.