Forget beer (yes, even artisanal brews), wine is the drink of a true gentlemen. Which is precisely why the wine trip is making a comeback for men craving a mature boozie bender or a sophisticated couple’s retreat in an inspired setting.
Contrasts in geography and climate means you can find exciting and unique offerings across the globe and think beyond the obvious wine triangle if you wish. Whatever destination you choose, whether it be an emerging newcomer with a historical twist, or a golden oldie filled with architectural treasures, is bound to be grape fun! Here are just a few of our favorite wine destinations to wet your whistle.
Move over Southern Europe, see ya later Australia, because China is the up-and-coming wine destination for gourmands on the hunt for the next newbie on the block. Although, you might actually be surprised to hear that the country has been producing the stuff for over 2,000 years! Expert tongues will fall head over heels with the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, whose close proximity to the Gobi desert produces a wonderfully refreshing variety of bubbly. The region is ranked by Expedia as one of the best sparkling wine regions in the world!
If you’ve got the time, do the full great wine of China circuit which will take around seven days. Catch a flight to Xian Xianyang, the perfect place to start your Chinese wine education. Skip town – or stunning mountain, rather – and follow your nose to Yulin (where you can check out the hot springs), Jinan (where you can climb the Thousand Buddha Mountain) and Laixi (where you can blend outstanding wine tastings with some cultural pursuits) before heading on the plane back home.
Wonderful wines, sizzling steak and incredible football – Argentina sure seems to have life priorities in check. When it comes to the wine trail, all roads lead to Mendoza, which is Argentina’s undisputed capital of grape. There are almost too many wineries to choose from but if you want a break from moody Malbecs, you’ll find crisp sparkling varieties in Cavas Rosell Boher. Soak up the units by tucking into the country’s finest cuts of beef at Club Tapiz in Maipú, which focuses on farm-to-plate specialities. Tag an extra few days onto your trip to explore the vibrant capital, Buenos Aires – the latino metropolis which never sleeps.
Argentina’s closest wine rival comes up next on the hit list thanks to its unique geography which makes it a wine aficionado’s paradise. With the Andes on one side and the Pacific Ocean on the other, it’s impossible not to be impressed by the wine region, which dramatically slices itself through the middle. After arriving in Santiago, thread your way through Curico Valley by way of Vina Valdivieso, Latin America’s first sparkling wine company which opened back in 1879. The further south you go, the richer the soil and more dramatic the scenery gets.
An obvious choice, but it would be tres bad of us to exclude the global perveryers of the wine industry. No matter how much people bang on about newcomers on the scene (ourselves included), nothing quite beats a wine-drenched weekend in France, the undisputed bigwigs of wine exports. If you thought you could just make do buying some Gallic vin at your local, you had best think again. France has over 110,000 winegrowers just waiting to be discovered.
You can try a Sauvignon Blanc anywhere in the world, so go for France’s most luxurious and unique variety, Champagne. Get your fizz fix in Moet et Chandon, the world’s most recognizable Champagne winery, located in the picturesque town of Epernay. After hitting Reims, the largest city in the Champagne region, drink your way through Metz and Boeckel over the next 4-5 days and go home with your case full of bubbly, bucket loads of memories, and…a bit of a sore head.
If you had dismissed South Africa’s wines as cheap bargain-bin variety stuff, we wouldn’t blame you. Most exports rarely can muscle up the strength to compete with European brands in the supermarket stakes. Trust us, it takes going to South Africa to really comprehend the orgasmic wonders of the country’s grape. Explore the Southern Cape with an open palette and mind and you’ll reap the wine rewards. Feel inspired with the wine and the sustainability efforts from small yet mighty growers such as the Simonsig Wine estate, who invest back into the community by offering apprenticeships to farmers. It’s a history lesson too, with many of the vineyards giving back resources to the ex-slave communities.
Wine and food here share a cosmic bond. So it’s little wonder why gourmands come here in droves for a holiday feast with all the trimmings. Here, food means a wine pairing of some sort and it’s local custom to drink one relatively light in character in small glasses with your meals. The worldwide Prosecco craze may have numbed us slightly to the delicate power of their sparkling, but try not let last year’s Christmas party overdose put you off. A glass of the fizzy stuff in Cantina Contratto vineyard, Canelli, will show you how much better Prosecco tastes in its natural habitat.
Northern Europe may be slightly under-the-radar when it comes to wine fame, but that doesn’t mean it’s undeserving of our attention. Locals love a good dry Riesling, but outsiders have previously found them, well, a bit too dry. Changes to the soil (thanks global warming!) have been softening the offering of late, so there are some new game-changing Rieslings to be enjoyed. In terms of a route, start your trip in Frankfurt, before heading to Stuttgart and Mannheim where you’ll also have the opportunity to sample some fabulous Sekt (German Champagne) as well.
Hot on the heels of its neighbor/competitor Australia, New Zealand has truly invigorated the wine industry with some maverick wines that have proved to be a real hit outside the country. Central Otago is where all the action is at. There you’ll find 35 wineries churning out the best Pinot Noir you’ve ever tasted, as well as some stellar Chardonnays and Sauvignon Blancs. You can’t come here and not be taken aback by the epic scenery, straight out of a fairytale. A refreshing hike through the mountains is basically mother nature’s Walk of Fame for film buffs. It also happens to be the best way to sweat out a hangover!
Now before you roll on the floor laughing in disbelief that the rainy UK could ever fork up some decent rays of sun to produce some knockout wines, think again. Whilst the unpredictable weather does limit the repertoire on offer, you will come across some surprisingly flavourful sparkling wines that rival Champagne when it comes to the taste factor. Which explains why Taittinger was inspired to invest in a vineyard in England in 2015, making it the first Champagne brand to do so. British wine is still ‘undervalued’, so vineyards have a cozy boutique feel to them. Be sure to check out Denbies Wine Estate in Surrey, which is generally regarded as producing the best sparkling white in the country.
Really we’re only talking about California when we talk about wine in the United States. It ranks 4th behind the holy trinity, France, Spain and Italy and it’s not even a country! The diverse climate lends itself to the vast menu of spectacular wines on offer here, although Napa and Sonoma ring the loudest for international wine drinkers. Why not rent a Mustang and weave through the best vineyards, whilst taking in the jaw-dropping scenery and hitting a few beaches along the way? Talk about California Dreamin!
Feeling inspired? The world is truly your wine glass! Where will the first destination on your wine-inspired bucket list?