Best Wine Countries for a Weekend Getaway

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Few alcoholic beverages have a history as long and rich as wine does. First created thousands of years ago, this exquisite drink has been a constant companion to both less fortunate and influential alike. By the times of the Roman Empire, the wine had become an integral part of the daily diet. It was also during these times that most of the predecessors to Western European wine-making regions were established. In the last few centuries, both cheap and high-quality wines became readily available virtually anywhere in the world, the only limit being the price.

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In this day and age, however, you are no longer restricted to simply buying a bottle or two. With the advent of cheap international airlines, flying abroad for a few days in order to taste some exotic wine variants is perfectly doable. In fact, there are several places renowned for their exquisite wine-making industry, including France, Italy, Portugal, South Africa, and even the US, that you might want to visit. Read on and learn where to go to pleasantly surprise your palate.

Go to Bordeaux, France for Some Amazing Red Wine

Bordeaux vineyards /Photo by Árpád Czapp

Bordeaux is one of the most prominent wine-making regions in France and is home to some of the most expensive wines in the world. The region is known for its red wines, often nicknamed ‘claret.’ However, Bordeaux has a lot more to offer than just its reds. The region produces some delicious white and rose wines, including Sauternes, a sweet dessert wine. 

The best time to visit this region is during the harvest period, usually from September to November (sometimes from August to October). During this time, you can witness firsthand how local wine-makers work their magic on the grapes, which are then turned into some of the best red wines in the world. During this period of time, many of the wineries of the region organize various events for their visitors, including concerts of classical music and, of course, wine-tasting sessions.

In order to best enjoy the region’s wines, you need to visit the ‘appellation’ or appellation d’origine contrôlée (AOC) areas, which are strictly defined geographical areas where specific grapes can be grown.

Don’t Forget About Italian Wine

Italian wine is also one of the most celebrated in the world, and the country’s wineries are famous for producing some of the best and most diverse wines there are. From some excellent and affordable reds to some exquisite and very expensive whites, Italian wine has it all.

Radda in Chianti, Province of Siena, Italy / Photo by Rich Martello

In order to visit the best Italy has to offer, you should definitely consider going to Tuscany, which is arguably the most recognized region of all. The Tuscan countryside is absolutely stunning, and the region’s wines are equally unique. Their most famous wine is probably Chianti, produced in Tuscany, which is known for its Sangiovese grape. Chianti has a long history, dating back to the Middle Ages.

Chianti is not the only great Italian red wine, however. The Veneto region produces some amazing reds, such as Valpolicella and Bardolino. And if you’re looking for some good white wine, then look no further than the region of Friuli-Venezia Giulia.

Enjoy Port and Some Breathtaking Views in Douro Valley, Portugal

Duoro Valley, Portugal /Photo by Maksym Kaharlytskyi

Portugal is a relatively small country in Southern Europe, but it has a lot to offer in terms of wine (and not only). Its best-known wine-producing region is Douro Valley, which produces a well-known fortified wine called port. Port is a fortified red wine usually produced from the country’s most widely planted grape, Touriga Nacional.

Douro Valley is home to some of the most beautiful landscapes in the world, including the dramatic ‘Serra do Soajo’ cliffs and breathtaking countryside views. The region is also home to a few UNESCO World Heritage sites, including the Douro Natural Park and the historical city of Vila Real. To top it all off, you can visit several adjacent regions to sample a variety of Portugal’s wines.

South Africa Also Has a Long Wine History

South Africa’s wine industry has a long history, with the first vines being planted in the Cape region during the 1650s. The Constantia Valley is the oldest wine-producing region in South Africa, with Groot Constantia being the oldest wine-producing estate. 

The country has a lot to offer in terms of wine; however, it is mostly known for its reds, particularly its Cape port-style wines, sparkling wines, and Pinotage varieties. The latter is made from South African-grown red grapes, a cross between Pinot Noir and Cinsault.

South African wines were introduced to the international market only in the late 1990s when the Apartheid was ended. However, they have been rapidly growing in popularity ever since.

Don’t Forget Napa Valley, California

Wine tasting festival, Nappa Valley / Photo by Alexander Gamanyuk

Napa Valley is a region located in northern California, famous for both its wineries and breathtaking views. It’s home to around 400 wineries, probably most famous for their red wines; however, it also produces wonderful white varieties. 

The valley’s most famous red wine is the Cabernet Sauvignon, which is a very popular variety of red wine that can be found in Napa Valley as well as in Bordeaux and Italy. The valley is also home to a special kind of white wine called Zinfandel related to the more common Pinot Grigio.

The valley’s vineyards are situated in the northern part of the San Francisco Bay Area and can be easily visited from nearby San Francisco. This means that Napa Valley is an excellent destination for a weekend getaway if you live in or near San Francisco or a part of the longer trip to California.

Conclusion

So, if you are planning a trip and want to try some of the best wines that the world has to offer, then you might want to consider visiting any of these great wine countries. You will not only get to sample some amazing wines but also enjoy spectacular landscapes and breathtaking views.

In the end, there is no need to be a wine expert in order to enjoy a nice glass. The secret to enjoying wine is to find the flavor that you like and stick to it. In order to do that, all you have to do is try a few different varieties. And what is the best way to do that if not traveling to wine-making regions?

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