Wine tasting by a teetotaler is amusing, isn’t it? Turned out my values seemed pointless when I looked wineries in the eye.

I’m not much of a birthday person but this was going to be my first birthday outside my home country and in the company of absolute strangers. I was really looking forward to this hostel stay, the best way to meet fellow travelers I feel. And, guess what? There was just one more person in my dorm. A 64-year-old man from France. Did not speak one word of English or Spanish.

We exchanged smiles every now and then and that was about it. I realized quickly that my birthday was going to be just as epic as it usually is in India (Read ‘uneventful’).

Anyway, the next day (My birthday that is), I left for Maipu as planned to do some wine tasting. You can either book a tour from your hostel or do the tour yourself which gives you ample time to decide what wineries you want to try. Even though I’m not much of a wine person (or any alcohol actually), I still chose to go for the latter.

How to reach:

I reached Maipu in a bus and two guys immediately came up to me and started explaining about their bike company. I chose “Maipu bikes” only because the price was the same for both but this one gave free empanadas and wine on return.

Which Wineries to choose:

Braced with the tiny map, a water bottle, and my 3 sandwiches, I started pedaling in the scorching sun. Before I even reached the first vineyard, I met with my first bike accident. How you ask? Well, I was so deeply engrossed in appreciating the beautiful canopy of maple trees and wondering how maple syrup is made that I completely missed out on looking at the road. That’s pretty important you know. Anyway, back to wine tasting.

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That’s not why I fell. This was taken while returning

The first winery I tried was Tempus Alba

The experience was good. I got to taste three wines and walk around their vineyard. The people were very friendly and the lady also explained to me on request, how am I supposed to taste the wine. She also helped me choose three wines out of the many they had.

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There I met some more people who were doing the same but most of the people had been staying there and going to wineries every day. I was going to stop after this but meeting these people made me realize the importance of the place and decided to explore more wineries myself. I also stopped by at ‘Mevi’ but it seemed more or less similar to Tempus Alba so I skipped wine tasting there. After speaking to a couple of more people, I decided to try a french winery – ‘Florio’. The wines here were very different (sweet wine) and they gave me a tour of their winery as well for the same price. This was a more old school which is something that I was interested in seeing.

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Malbec in process

I cycled back all happy and tipsy to return the bike, had my free empanadas and wine.

Here I met these two wonderful women, I joined their table and later we were joined my two of their friends. During the course of the conversation, it came up that today is my birthday. Everyone sang me a song and the cafe owner gave me a wine bottle which was so sweet of him. Although, in total honesty, I didn’t really know what to do with it as I didn’t like that wine so much.

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We all went back to Mendoza together to our respective hostels. I cooked myself some horrible pasta and went to sleep after taking one last look at my phone hoping to see some messages I was waiting for. Well, you can’t have everything in the world, Can you?

And that was how I celebrated my first birthday outside my country. In hindsight, that’s the perfect amount of attention I can handle.

Wouldn’t it be amazing if we could celebrate all our birthdays in a New place?

Manisha Singh

In 2016, out of sheer hopelessness towards life, I quit my corporate job. The idea was to find happiness again. On this quest I went to Brazil and from there started my year-long journey in Latin America. A journey that was no short of a dream from soaking sun on the beaches of Brazil to witnessing calving glaciers of Argentina, from trekking to Machu Picchu to swimming in Mexican sink holes. And, life has never been mundane ever since. I continued traveling full time thereafter primarily in India stopping every now and then to find paid work.

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