Picturing Uruguay with Lentil Stew & Aguara Tannat #winepw

Aguara Tannat Special Reserve

No matter where they’re grown, Tannat grapes produce an inky, dark wine.

Wine Pairing Weekend Group Imagines Uruguay
It’s February and our Wine Pairing Weekend blogging group is picturing what summer must be like down in Uruguay. Never heard of wine from Uruguay you say? I had heard, but had never tried one. Thanks to Amanda Barnes of Around the World in 80 Harvests and the South America Wine Guide and  Instituto Nacional de Vitivinicultura (INAVI), many of our group found wine samples on their snowy doorsteps in January, just in time to put together our imaginary trip. Take a look down farther in this post to see all the great suggestions for foods to go with Uruguayan wine. I think we’ll all be on the lookout now!

Wine From Uruguay?
As you can see in the map below, Uruguay is situated between the southern corner of Brazil and the eastern edge of Argentina. Unlike Argentina, the country is low and rolling and the climate is maritime, influenced by the southern Atlantic ocean. There is a strong culture of food and wine in the country, and vineyards have long been planted. Almost 80% of the grapes grown are for red wine, with Tannat being the dominant variety. The grape was brought from France in the 1870’s and has thrived in the climate of Uruguay. In France, Tannat based wines are powerfully tannic and benefit from years of aging. In Uruguay, the grape shows a little more reserve and polish, and can be ready to drink much sooner.

Uruguay wine map courtesy of maps-uruguay.com

El Capricho Winery
El Capricho
is a relatively young winery located in a new region of Durazno. The winery was founded in 2010, with 2015 being their first commercial vintage. All fruit is estate grown, and they maintain an approach of the highest quality at every step. They produce several wines including a Verdejo (white), Pinot Noir, Tannat, an Assemblage TTC blend, Tempranillo reserve, Tannat reserve, and their special reserve Tannat.

Disclosure: The Uruguayan wine was provided as a sample by Lanciano Wine Company, the importer. No other compensation was involved. All opinions expressed are mine.

Inky dark, but polished. The Aguara Tannat Special Reserve balances new world polish with old world earthy elements

El Capricho Aguará Tannat “Special Reserve” 2015 ($37 SRP)
This Special Reserve wine was limited to 1100 bottles in total. Limited yields from their best plots, hand harvest, and 18 months of aging in new French oak barrels. I was expecting a wholly modern, internationally styled wine. This wine balances the polish and fruit of a new world approach with some nice earthy components, well done.

Eye: Clear, deep ruby in color with ruby edge. Ruby stained legs.
Nose: Clean, medium+ intensity. Smoky with red and black fruit: ripe strawberries and blackberries. A little earth and tobacco in the background.
Mouth: Dry, medium+ intensity flavors. Red fruits with earthy undertones. Fruit forward, with nice non-fruit components of leather, tobacco and gravel in the background. Medium acidity, medium+ fine tannins with a long fine grained resolved tannic finish. The wine benefited from several hours of air before enjoying at dinner.

Wine Pairing Weekend Bloggers Share
Take a look at some great posts below from our fellow Wine Pairing Weekend bloggers. You might find you need to search out some Uruguayan wine!  If you see this post early enough, please join our chat on Twitter, Saturday Feb. 9 at 10am CST. Look for the hashtag #winepw.

Guiso de Lentejas Paired with Aguará Tannat Special Reserve
In searching for recipes from Uruguay, I found a typical stew referred to as “guiso”. Apparently, it is a common dish all around South America, with the particular recipe I found coming from Uruguay. I’m a big fan of slow cooked braises and stews, and I love lentils, so this dish was a natural for me. While the ingredients are familiar, the flavor and texture were unique and a fun surprise. The earthy flavors of the stew were offset nicely by the polished but powerful Tannat.

Guiso de Lentejas (Lentil stew)

The original recipe for the Guiso de Lentejas recipe is here but it was missing several steps I consider important for any braised meat or stew-type dish, so I noted below my method for making the dish. In any case, it was delicious!


  • 1.5 cups of dry lentils (I like French green lentils)
  • 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1 red pepper, finely chopped
  • 3 strips of thick cut bacon, cut into small pieces
  • 1 lb. beef stew meat, cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 4 oz. red wine (Tannat if you like, otherwise an inexpensive but drinkable red wine)
  • 8 oz. tomato sauce
  • 2 russet potatoes, peeled and cut into small, bite sized pieces
  • 1 sweet potato, peeled and cut into small, bite sized pieces
  • 1 carrot, peeled and cut into bite sized pieces
  • 1 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 2 fresh basil leaves, minced
  • Salt
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)
  • 8 oz. chicken broth (if needed)


  • Cover the lentils with water, medium heat, low boil for about 30 minutes, taste to ensure they are still a bit firm, not too soft. Drain the water and set aside.
  • Heat a 4 quart dutch oven over a medium flame on the stove, adding 1 Tbsp of EVOO once the pan is hot.
  • Saute the onions and red pepper until the onions are translucent, 4-5 minutes. Remove from the pan.
  • Brown the bacon in the dutch oven, 5-8 minutes. Remove the bacon, leave the dripping in the pan.
  • Brown the beef cubes in the pan, being careful to not crowd them.  Split into two batches if needed. Brown all sides of the beef, then remove from the pan.
  • Pour off any remaining grease or oil from and pan and any burnt bits.  Leave the browned crusty bits in the pan.  Return the pan to the heat.
  • Deglaze the pan with the red wine, stirring up the cooked bits from the bottom.
  • Add the onions, red peppers, bacon, beef, tomato sauce, thyme, basil and oregano. Add salt to taste.
  • Bring to a barely bubbling simmer, cover the pot and simmer for up to two hours.  Add chicken stock if the sauce gets too thick.  The idea is to slow cook the beef to tenderness.
  • Add the potatoes, sweet potato, and carrot pieces. Add chicken stock if needed. Note: the stew should be a bit thick, not soupy. Cover and cook over medium-low heat for 20-30 minutes until the potatoes have softened.
  • Finally, add the lentils to the stew, continue to cook until heated through.  Serve with crusty bread and a colorful vegetable or salad.
  • Delicious with a Tannat from Uruguay!

19 Responses to “Picturing Uruguay with Lentil Stew & Aguara Tannat #winepw”
  1. spisark says:

    Great to learn about a new Tannat producer. Thanks for sharing! But I can’t find a retailer in the US for the wines on Wine-Searcher Pro. Any suggestions?

  2. culinarycam says:

    I clearly need to track down another bottle of Tannat! Thanks for sharing, Jeff. This, as always, makes my mouth water.

  3. Deanna says:

    Guise with Tannat seems like just the warm, cozy pairing i need for a cold night while watching Death in Paradise and thinking of sunny days.

  4. wendyklik says:

    Loving the lentil stew….anxious to try the pairing.

  5. Lynn says:

    Nice you got to taste such a small production wine. Liking the label and from your review would likely feel the same about the contents. Sensational photos Jeff!

  6. That lentil stew is calling my name! All I need now is a bottle of Tannat from Uruguay. Super pairing, Jeff.

  7. Great hardy pairing with the Tannat, I especially like the earthy lentil component. Perfect dish for the wine and the Minnesota winter!❄️

  8. What a delicious looking stew!. It looks like a great match for the Tannat!

  9. Pinny Tam says:

    Love this Aguara Tannat + lentil stew pairing! I will cook this dish, but only have regular lentil. I do know French lentil does have better texture.

  10. Nicole Ruiz Hudson says:

    Everything looks delicious! The stew looks so colorful.

  11. Looking at your lentil stew recipe. I know it’s one I would enjoy! Thanks for sharing Jeff!

  12. Sounds like a warming pairing, perfect for this time of year. The tannat sounds really delish too!

  13. Jill Barth says:

    Lentils are so highly useful around the kitchen and they do so well with rich wines. I really loved this bottle, not to mention the charming label!

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