Few things complement a fiery sunset, an exquisite five-course dinner or a leisurely afternoon like a glass of wine. With the ability to turn any ordinary vacation into an extraordinary one with just the pop of a cork, it’s no surprise the world of wine tourism is growing at such an exponential rate.
Instead of simply sampling local varietals at dinner, expansive wine tours give you a unique opportunity to get up close and personal with the world’s best grapes. Whether you’re heading to the centuries-old Chateau’s of France or the burgeoning wine cellars of South Africa, a wine journey is the perfect occasion to deepen your knowledge of wine, which will come in handy only for the rest of your life.
And while France, Italy and Spain produce nearly half of the vino in the world, quality wine is now being made worldwide, with new standouts emerging yearly. Venture to boutique wineries in smaller regions like Portugal, Australia, New Zealand, Germany and South Africa, and you will be amply rewarded with varietals that dance on your taste buds.
Old World Europe = Modern Wine Perfection
France - The Bordeaux region produces what is known as perhaps the most prestigious wines, predominantly full-bodied, oak barrel aged red varietals, from rich Cabernets to herbal and plum flavored Merlots. You’ll also find plenty of sumptuous reds in Burgundy, too.
Italy - While every region of Italy produces good wines, Tuscany is where the grapes for bold Chianti are grown and produced in old world-style: by foot-stomping in barrels. Medium-bodied Sangiovese wines are another excellent choice, perfect for pairing with freshly rolled fettuccini or pappardelle pasta.
Germany is known for its many sweet white wines, namely Rieslings, but you can also find fine Gewürztraminers. The least ripe, ideal as an aperitif, is a Kabinett; while Spatlese and Auslese are made from late-picked grapes and the sweet dessert wine Eiswein (ice wine) is picked as the grapes begin to freeze.
Southern Hemisphere Classics
South Africa is known for their Chenin Blancs and signature Pinotage, as well as brandy, but you’ll also find Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdo, Shiraz and more. Most of the vineyards are located on the Western Cape near the coast—which you can explore on a hop-on/hop-off wine tram for a unique travel experience.
New Zealand is famous for its Pinot Noirs, with intense fruit flavors, and grassy, dry Sauvignon Blancs. Because of the cooler temperatures here, the grapes have a longer ripening period, resulting in full flavor development with a fresh acidity. Taste your way through three significant wine regions—including can’t-miss Hawke’s Bay and Marlborough—and over 120 wineries on the Classic Wine Trail.