SYDNEY, Australia – We all know the feeling you get when you settle into your favorite couch with a glass of wine. Ever wondered how it’s done around the world? Then check out these recommendations for the best destinations around the world to enjoy a lovely drop. You will get a new found appreciation for sommeliers and make yourself look good at dinner parties. Just leave plenty of room in the suitcase for the trip home.
1. Champagne, France – According to French law, only bubbly grown in this region and bottled according to the strictest standards can be labeled as Champagne. Here, you can pop the cork of France’s best-known brands, including Dom Perignon, Perrier Jouet, Veuve Clicquot and Moët & Chandon. For those feeling adventurous, you can try the age-old art of sabrage – removing the cork from a bottle using a cavalry sword.
2. Tuscany, Italy – This area between Florence and Siena produces some of the country’s most heavily marketed vino, the best known of which is Chianti Classico, a Sangiovese dominated drop sold under the Gallo Nero label. Chianti embodies the classic Tuscan countryside, gentle hills and vines as far as the eye can see. Settle in with a bottle and some cheese and enjoy the beautiful sunsets.
3. Napa Valley Wine Country, California – In 1976 this region won worldwide acclaim in Paris, when two Napa Valley wines outscored a venerable collection of French Bordeaux in a blind tasting. Today, there are over 500 wineries in Napa and Sonoma Counties, specializing in different varietals. If you’ve hired a bike and feel a bit tipsy, take West Dry Creek Road – it’s been labeled the safest road on which to fall off your bike.
4. La Rioja, Spain – Wander the velvety La Rioja wine country with over 500 bodegas to choose from. In the town of Haro, there is an annual wine festival, which takes place on June 29, noted for its Batalla de Vino (Battle of Wine) where the weapon of choice is red wine fired from water pistols. A change of clothes is recommended.
5. Marlborough, New Zealand – Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough with fresh, fruity and herbal aromas that leap out of the glass is a world-class winner. The wine region is also establishing a strong reputation for its methode traditionnelle wines. The broad, sweeping plains are home to about 70 wineries. Discover and enjoy on a self-drive, bicycle or guided tour.
6. Hunter Valley, Australia – A visit to Australia’s oldest and most well-known wine region is a truly special experience. With more than 120 wineries, the Hunter Valley produces crisp Semillon and ripe Shiraz varieties. Visit the cellar doors of some of the wine “bluebloods”, such as McGuigan, Tyrrell and Drayton, whose families have been making wine for generations. The smaller boutique wineries are well worth a visit too.
7. Mendoza, Argentina – Popular grapes here include Malbec, which is a medium-bodied red, and the indigenous Torrontes, the basis for an aromatic white varietal. A number of companies in Maipu rent bikes and electric scooters, making a day tour of the area an excellent outing – just make sure you have a little break before getting back on the road.
8. Mosel, Germany – The Mosel-Sarr-Ruwer region boast some of the world’s steepest vineyards (up to 65° degrees incline), where the predominantly Riesling grapes are still hand-picked. Elbling and Muller-Thurgau contribute to production too and keep a particular eye out for J.J. Prum.
9. Stellenbosch, South Africa – Spend some time in the historic heart of the country’s wine region of Stellenbosch, home to over 140 wineries. With so many to pick from we recommend a visit to Villiera, Neethlingshof and Hartenberg Estate. Try a local Pinotage, made from a grape variety for which South Africa is world renowned.
10. Colchagua Valley, Chile – With around 20 wineries open to the public, the Colchagua Valley is Chile’s biggest and best established wine region. Carmenere is Chile’s standout varietal and top notch Malbecs are also appearing.