Watching the sunset over rolling green hills with rows and rows of vineyards, interspersed with small medieval villages, and inhaling the warm ambience from grapes ripening in the sun, makes a visit to the great wine regions of Europe so much more than just a wine tasting experience. Knowing these hills have been cultivated and tended by families for centuries and centuries, brings an aura of mystery and age to the whole travelling experience.
Undeniably Europe has always been seen as the home of winemaking. Each wine making region is steeped in their own traditions, techniques, and customs, giving the regional wines a distinctness that is unique. Compared to wine regions such as Napa, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand, the history and soil which gives the old wines their earthiness, cannot be replicated. Knowing that we provide you with a list of the 5 top European destinations for wine tasting.
Top Wine Tasting Destinations:
As the most famous wine region in the world, Tuscany is at the top of our list. With picture perfect scenery, a temperate climate and ancient cellar doors, thousands of visitors come to experience the breathtaking vineyards and exceptional wines. From Chianti to Sassicaia, the reds, whites and dessert wines are all excellent.
Known for its artistic heritage and beautiful landscapes, Tuscany is situated in central Italy, where many unique flavoured grapes originate. Their distinct flavouring makes for wines that are recognised worldwide. With more than 750 wineries which you may visit for wine tasting, you can enjoy the luxury of wine on the beach, while sitting on a hillside, enjoying the sunset, dinner with the locals, and numerous other unforgettable experiences.
A famous Italian wine is the Chianti, which can be found all over Italy. However, there are two wines we recommend you try on your trip. These wines are named after the city where they originated:
Although home to numerous Renaissance churches and towers, the real attraction of Monepulciano is the Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, which is a dry and full-bodied red wine.
Bolgheri is situated just off the Tuscan coast and is the secret love of Tuscany. Boasting full bodied wines made from cabernet sauvignon, merlot and syrah grapes, the ultimate is the Bolgheri Sassicaia – one of the world’s most sought-after and expensive wines made from cabernet franc and cabernet sauvignon grapes.
Both Montepulciano and Bolgheri are within easy travelling distance from Florence and Siena to make a day-trip or even better yet, and overnight stay. We recommend renting a car, as this would give you the freedom to visit many wineries, while the buses and trains are not as well connected in the countryside.
Bordeaux – France
Situated in the south-west of France, Bordeaux is an ancient region with beautiful medieval villages, heritage-listed buildings, stunning country- and seaside townships that have been argued by some to be the wine capital of the world. The variety of exceptional wines being produced in this region is legendary and still continues to be one of the fastest growing wine regions in the world. With the fantastic new Cité du Vin, there is a great sense of fun and openness to this wine region.
While wine buffs and experts alike have long enjoyed the complexities and nuances of hundreds of great wines produced here, a beginner lacking in wine knowledge will still discover the aura and mystique Bordeaux holds. Over and above wine tasting, during the day you can do sight-seeing and shop for memorabilia, while at night you can dine in a castle.
Bordeaux’s formidable reputation has been built by its centuries of old wine heritage, its history, and the diversity of its terroirs. With so many cellar doors to visit and so much history to soak in, we definitely recommend a professional wine tasting tour to get to know this region.
Burgenland – Austria
Not only is Burgenland well known as Austria’s warmest wine region, it is only a mere hour’s car drive from beautiful Vienna. Right on the border of Hungary, lies the beautiful Lake Neusiedl. This is an area of Burgenland that attracts both nature and bird lovers from around the world due to its rare bird life and vast reed belt. Although you may be distracted by the beautiful scenery, recreational activities such as sailing and windsurfing is a must for the adventurous and sporty types. Apart from its natural beauty and the warmth of its people, Burgenland is a definite must see for all wine lovers as picturesque vineyards surround the lake and nearby villages.
In early January 2016, The Austrian National Tourist Office and Austrian wine industry had good reason to celebrate as The New York branch of the Austrian National Tourist Office took home not one, but three Travvy Awards – The Travvy Awards can be compared to the Grammy Awards within the travel industry. And of course, Austria came out on top by being voted as the “Best Wine Travel Destination Europe” above world-famous regions such as Bordeaux and Tuscany. Therefore it is included in our short list of Top Wine Tasting Destinations.
La Rioja – Spain
This region is what comes to mind when you think of a peaceful and quiet Spanish village set in the foothills of the Pyrenees Mountains. La Rioja is a wine making region in northern Spain best known for its full-bodied red and sparkling wines. With over 500 wineries producing a variety of reds and centuries of grape-growing history, this is definitely one of the top destinations for a winery getaway.
In addition to wine-tasting, there are great things to do like walking into the mountains and taking in the astonishing views, to visiting a number of important cathedrals and monasteries. Close to La Rioja is the Way of St James pilgrim route, which together with some cathedrals and monasteries, has been declared as World Heritage Sites by UNESCO. La Rioja is definitely a must-visit destination for all wine lovers.
Porto and Douro Valley – Portugal
Close to Porto, lies the enchanted Valley of Douro with its magnificent and magical landscapes. Porto is a beautiful seaside town worthy of several days on your travel itinerary. Well renowned for its wines, with mild weather throughout the year, from long coastlines to high mountains filled with vineyards, Douro Valley offers a wide range of wine tastings and experiences that make Portugal the complete wine vacation.
Right next to Spain and well renowned for its distinctive sweet red and port wines, the Portuguese soil with its wide range of native varieties and mild climate, has been favourited for the production of wine ever since Roman times. Be sure to taste the most popular wine varieties such as the Port wine, Alvarinho, Touriga Franca, Touriga Nacional and Tinta Roriz.
To experience the best wines Europe has to offer, choose any of these magnificent holiday destinations as your goal for encountering historic Europe. Good food, astonishing scenery and magnificent ancient sites is a perfect match for a holiday experience you will never forget.