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Brazil's Vale dos Vinhedos

For those who don't quite yet know a picanha from fraldinha or alcatra, the gauchos have just ridden into Washington, DC., firing up their rotisserie at the newest Fogo de Chao. It's the sixth outpost of the chain, which started in Brazil in 1979. Part of the dining experience is listening to your gaucho (here in America they are waiters) explain the 15 different cuts of meat--picanha is prime sirloin, fraldinha is botom sirloin and alcatra is top sirloin--and then flipping yoru coaster from red to green when you'd like a little more beef or lamb, chicken, pork or sausage. And rather than delivering the cuts speared and in bulk, they'll slice an ounce or two at a time, a far more civilized way to deal with all the meat. Even in small bites, meat calls out for red wine. And Fogo has a massive wall of it. Although assistant general manager Evan Christopher stocks plenty of California cabernets and merlots, it's the malbecs and blends from Argentina and Chile that have taken off. And if you were about to ask--yes, Brazil does produce wine and Fogo offers a selection of moderately priced reds from Brazil's Vale dos Vinhedos.

 
 
 

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