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Montevideo Wine Experience – the underground sommeliers

Nico and Liber at Montevideo Wine Experience – great Uruguay wine tasting

Right across from the port of Montevideo, on the outer-edge of the infamous Port Market, lies Montevideo Wine Experience, a “hole-in-the-wall” style wine-bar. It’s run by two charming young guys who really know their wines, speak great English and are passionate that the rest of us get to know Uruguayan wines as intimately as they do.

I first came across them thanks to guests of mine, who told me about this wonderful little wine-bar they’d discovered in the Port Market. The wine-bar seemed to exert a mysterious force on them. Every day of their stay, after sight-seeing they would spend the afternoon hanging out there, and would stumble come back, not only full of info about Uruguayan wines, but local politics, culture, etc…

So I had to go and check it out. And I can confirm, with their great wines, great prices and unique wine-based cocktails plus tasty tasty tapas and wonderful service and above all generosity and enthusiasm, a traveller’s time at MWE is well-spent.

The wine-bar opens at midday and closes at 9pm but if you want to stay on and owner Nico and sommelier Liber (pictured above) don’t have anywhere pressing to go, no problem, fee free to hang for as long as you like.

What more could you ask for?

Maybe a free drink?

Voucher for Free glass of wine at Montevideo Wine ExperienceYes! Guru’Guay has partnered with MWE to offer readers their first glass of wine or wine-based cocktail on the house!

So over a wine-based cocktail, I asked Liber and Nico for the answers to a few pertinent questions that any wine lover coming to Uruguay NEEDS to know.

The Guru: OK,  it’s a really hot day and I’ve just walked into Montevideo Wine Experience. What drink would you choose to serve me?

Liber: It’s got to be a wine cocktail – our caipi made with Sauvignon Blanc, tahiti limes and fresh ginger.

[Gentle readers, I have to admit I was DUBIOUS about the very concept of a wine-based cocktail. But I have to hand it to them, these guys KNOW what works where wine is concerned. I was served an extra-lemony caipirinha made with Sauvignon Blanc and a hint of ginger and it was deliciousssss and soooo refreshing. Just the ticket for a hot summer’s day.]

The Guru: And what Uruguayan wine to drink on a cold day?

Liber: It’s got to be a glass of Tannat, Uruguay’s most famous wine.

Montevideo wine tasting - Montevideo Wine ExperienceThe Guru: Which three great Uruguayan wines would you recommend to a visitor to take back home with them?

Liber: On the low-price range, a Sauvignon Blanc by Gimenez Mendez which costs about 250 pesos. It’s not all Tannat here in Uruguay.

For a mid-range wine, I’d recommend a Tannat Viogner by Altos de la Ballena. It’s an extraordinary wine, very complex and produced in the department of Maldonado, six miles from Punta del Este. (Cost 590 pesos)

The very best wine that we stock is the Impetú 2011 produced by the winery Los Nadies. It’s a tiny vineyard dedicated to producing absolutely the highest quality wine. They only produced 600 bottles of Impetú 2011 in total. Right now a bottle here costs 2300 pesos but the price is likely to go up as time passes, as fewer and fewer bottles are available.

The Guru: You specialise in demystifying wines but you’re also getting some pretty famous customers, so I’ve heard.

Montevideo wine tasting - Montevideo Wine ExperienceLiber: We’re popular with customers who are just starting to get into wine because we don’t stand on ceremony. We like to make our guests feel comfortable to ask questions.

And we really like wine and we really want people to get into it. We are really different and that means we complement each other really well.

Nico is really into the experiencing wine from the consumer side. He likes to look at how different wines work well with different foods.

I have the technical background so I can throw the terminology around if I want. But to be honest I think of myself more as an “underground sommelier”. I prefer talking about the people behind the wines, and what the wine makes me feel, rather than blinding with science.

But, sure, you might come in here and find a serious wine expert hanging out at the bar. This year we’ve been visited by Charlie Arturaola. He’s considered to have one of the best palates in the world. Luiz Alberto # wine lover, who runs one of the world’s largest online wine communities, also came here on a recent trip.

The Guru: You’re also pretty well-known yourselves in local wine circles.

Liber: (laughing) Nicolas comes from an old wine family here in Uruguay. His grandfather was a pioneer of the Uruguayan viticulture and owned a well-known vineyard.

With typical Uruguayan modesty, Liber looks embarrassed to admit that in 2015 he placed second among all the professional sommeliers in Uruguay and has represented Uruguay overseas.  [link in Spanish]

Prices at Montevideo Wine Experience

Check out their great wines, unique wine-based cocktails plus tasty tasty tapas with exceptional bread and hand-carved cold cuts.

Definitely plan to spend an hour or so -at least- wine tasting. You can make a meal of it by ordering tapas or tablas.

  • A glass of wine starts at 120 pesos and can go up to 400-plus pesos
  • Tapas from 75 pesos
  • Tablas” are typical Uruguayan plates of cheese and coldcuts
  • A generous individual tabla costs 300 pesos
  • A large tabla for 2-3 people is 600 pesos.

[At the time of publishing, there were apx 28 pesos to the US dollar]

Buying bottles of wine

MWE keep their carefully-selected bottles in all price ranges competitive with supermarket prices. Plus you will be getting expert advice.

MWE will box your wine for travelling free of charge. They also sell specialist bottlebags.

Where to find Montevideo Wine Experience

Address: Rambla 25 de agosto de 1825, 244, Ciudad Vieja, Montevideo
Opening times: 11.30am till 9pm every day except Mondays.

Go to the Port Market. The entrance is on the outside part of the market, across the street from the entrance to the port. If you can’t find it, ask for El Palenque. MWE is next door.

If you are arriving by cruise-ship or ferry from Buenos Aires, come out of the port, take the pedestrian (zebra) crossing over the street and you are right there! Congratulations. That’s some first port of call.

Check out MWE on Facebook to see if your visit coincides with one of their wine-food-music evenings.

Guru Treats – save this coupon for a free glass of wine when you visit MWE

Voucher for Free glass of wine at Montevideo Wine Experience

Photos: Courtesy of Doug Young and Montevideo Wine Experience

8 Comments

  1. Barry

    February 9, 2017

    Hi WelshWitch
    We arrived in Montevideo yesterday afternoon for 6 weeks and after getting unpacked we went to the MWE. It was great, Nico was there and we tasted a couple of Tannats.
    We wanted supper as well. Nico then took us around the corner and I ordered a steak & sausage that came with Frites, my wife (a vegitarian) ordered a Greta salad with goat cheese. We paid at the Asado Resteraunt and went back to the MWE, about 15 minutes later a waiter came with our meals and we had a great time enjoying our wine and meals.
    Nico was a gracious host and started our Urugayan wine course. There will be many more classes as we are staying on Piedra about 3 minutes from the MWE. We will go this afternoon for a wine and Passion Fruit cocktail

    Reply
    • The Guru of Guru'Guay

      February 9, 2017

      Hey Barry, I LOVE it when readers share their experiences of what I am recommending – thank you! Bottoms up, for this afternoon! — Karen

      Reply
  2. Ed Broker

    November 5, 2016

    We’re planning a 1-month trip in Feb 2017 to Uruguay & Argentina (primarily B. Aires). I’ve been more fascinated with Uruguay. We plan about 2 weeks for Montevideo and Uruguay beaches, and 12 days for BA and Mendoza.
    Travel to Mendoza would be mostly for the wine experience, but its so far from BA. Would it be wiser and more time efficient for us to spend an extra 3-4 days in Uruguay to get true local wine-country experience and skip Mendoza altogether?

    FYI, we are a retired senior couple from Canada that travel extensively. Your website is valuable resource for our upcoming trip. Muchas gracias!

    Reply
    • The Guru of Guru'Guay

      November 7, 2016

      Hi Ed, thanks so much for the kind words. Yes, Uruguay is definitely the intriguing less-known destination! Of course, Mendoza and Uruguay offer very different experiences, but given your preferences Uruguay would fit more seamlessly into your itinerary. For a really leisurely, wine-filled time I would suggest that take the gentle ferry from Buenos Aires (El Tigre) to Carmelo. Spend 3 nights in Carmelo visiting wineries – max two per day. Uruguay is LAID BACK. You want your first days to reflect that too 🙂 I’ll be posting Carmelo accommodation recommendations later this week – bookmark this page! In Montevideo plan a wine tour with Damian at Feeling Uruguay to visit a few vineyards that are only open to private visits. In Punta del Este when you are checking out the beaches, contact Ryan at The Wine Experience for a gourmet wine and/or sunset wine tour overlooking the Atlantic. I’m sure you are going to have an amazing time! — Karen

      Reply
  3. Becca

    October 13, 2016

    Wonderful!! I’m so happy you published this now. We aren’t going to make it to Carmelo for wine-tasting, but have been dying to sit down with someone and taste the beautiful Uruguayan wines with some background info. Now I’ll know just what to bring home! Do you know if something exists like this with cheese?… in Montevideo or Colonia. Gracias!

    Reply
    • Welshwitch in Uruguay

      October 13, 2016

      Fantastic, Becca! Yes! Damian of Feeling Uruguay Wine Tours is putting together a cheese (and olive oil) tour which starts out in Colonia and takes you to locations an hour out towards Montevideo. The cheese tours are still beta, so are not on his website yet. Write to him at feelinguruguay@gmail.com and tell him you’ve come through Guru’Guay – he’ll give you a little discount.

      Montevideo (the province/department) and nearby Canelones is actually Uruguay’s biggest wine producing region, so while you are in Montevideo you could do a half-day tour if you had time (just wanted to make sure that it’s clear that you do not have to travel three hours to Carmelo from Montevideo to be in wine country – it’s right next door).

      But yessss, SO GREAT to have a relaxed place like MWE to try out Uruguayan wines. Say hi to Liber and Nico for me when you visit MWE – and don’t forget to mention Guru’Guay to get your first glass on the house 🙂

      Reply
  4. Leslie Fellows

    October 13, 2016

    This place sounds great, I will definitely be spending some time there on my next trip!!

    Reply

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