Today, Manuel makes a four-line range of potato-fermented ‘wine’ called Miskioca (Quechua for sweet oca), and while its appearance and alcohol levels are similar to wines made from grapes, in many countries his oca-fermented beverages could not be labelled ‘wine’ for precisely that reason (it isn’t made from grapes). Rosé, white, red and orange shape his quaffable rainbow, although the red is produced from black mashwa, another Andean tuber.
Where oca alcohol differs to wine is in texture (less tannins) and aromas that confuse and arouse at the same time: the sweet orange oca is fruity, floral, with bee’s wax, white grape and pear notes in the nose, while the black mashwa offers red fruits such as cherry as well as black forest gateau flavours in the mouth.
Photo by Gustavo Vivanco
At Lima’s Central, head sommelier Diego Vásquez Luque pairs O-tuber, a yellow oca ‘wine’ that Manuel makes specially for Mater Iniciativa, with a dessert course. “O-tuber, whose name comes from its scientific one oxalis tuberosa, harmonises with Foresta Ambar, the first dessert in Central’s tasting menu, which comprises yacon root, coffee crunch and cabuya (a type of agave), sourced from an Andean sub-tropical altitude.”
Besides launching the orange oca ‘wine’ later this year, Manuel is also experimenting with bubbles, using the champenoise method to ferment yellow oca, and has also joined forces with Distilería Andina based in the Sacred Valley to create a tuber-based liquor.
Innovative Andean alcoholic beverages created at origin at 3,740 metres above sea level that are true and unique to their terroir – all the proof you need that “a potato is a very good thing to be” (Massimo Bottura).