A wine bar called Nilson

January 4, 2019 musings — It is summer in Buenos Aires. January and it seems that half the city has left on vacation. Or at least half the middle class seems to be gone.

The nights are more than casual, they are light and lazy. Most people look scrubbed and I can only imagine that they went home after work to shower off the heat, humidity and car exhaust of the day, put on something cool and fresh. Even the protests that took place all over the city at 9 p.m. in opposition to the new taxes that the government is proposing (and will ram through the legislature despite all opposition) seemed to have a renewed energy. They marched banging sticks and pots and pans, and blowing horns as usual, but with a slow dedication, less enraged.

I am sitting here on a stool at a wine bar in San Telmo called Nilson, on the outside of the Old Market on Carlos Calvo. Sergio who co-owns and manages with his wife Samantha, brought an extra stool out to the sidewalk so I could rest my wine and the walnuts and raisins that accompany it. They hold my computer bag behind the counter so I don’t have to worry about it.

The young trio of hipsters – a woman from the States (or maybe Canada, though I doubt it) and two young Argentine men – joked in Spanish splashed with English and discussed where to go dancing later. It is only 11 p.m. and nobody goes to the clubs before 1 a.m. They were sitting by the outside bar in front of me, but have already been replaced by three porte├▒os (natives of Buenos Aires), men in their 30s and 40s who have varying degrees of a scruffy intellectual style. They don’t tuck in their button down collared shirts (neither do I) and could all use a shave or trim. I am trying to eavesdrop on their conversation, but they aren’t anywhere near as loud as the younger people who were slowly gearing up to go clubbing.

The three men seem to enjoy being serious and important together. I catch the occasional half sentence: “it measures about 1.9 meters”, “Satudays and Sundays they work well, all day”, “but you’ll need a tarp anyway”. At one point, one of them looks for some information on his cell phone. They pause silently and await his report.

I seem to have emptied my glass too quickly. It was a varietal I had never tried before: criolla blanca, which is related to torront├ęs the only wine grape that is indigenous to Argentina. Lightly sweet and floral, but in a gentle way, not sticky. (Funny, because later Sergio told me he likes that it has an unctuous quality, which I clearly did not notice.) Good for sitting alone on a summer night and writing in a notebook. Still, I think I will have one more glass before I go home, but something different, drier. Something to close the evening and put my rambling thoughts to rest.

Click here to check out our Buenos Aires City Guide tours!