Wine

Winning with Wine: a Wine-Lover’s Guide to the World’s Best Wine Festivals

Red, white, rosé, non-alcoholic, sparkling, and on and on the list goes. It’s almost impossible not to enjoy a glass of wine with the variety to be found in the world. This beverage has been around since the beginning of time, or at least since 7,000 BC, when the art of drinking wine first appeared as a religious ceremony. But the Greek worshippers of Dionysus soon realized that the drink was also pleasurable after the rite had ended.

Wine glasses

Every region, country and even city can have its own take on wine. Explore the selection we have gathered here and discover the bewildering variety of wine this globe has to offer. Pour yourself a glass, sit back and enjoy the story of the intoxicating refreshment we all hold dear.

Argentina

It might come as a surprise, but Argentina is the world’s fifth largest producer of the liquid heaven that we call wine, and it is so popular and important in the culture that the government declared wine as Argentina’s national liquor. The country has three important wine regions: Mendoza, which produces a staggering 60% of Argentine wine, San Juan and La Rioja.

Argentina wine valley

One of the most popular red wines is the cherished Malbec. Experts have described Malbec as a ‘user-friendly’ wine, low in alcohol, elegant and extremely easy to combine with a variety of international dishes. The most important fruit flavors are blackberry, plum and black cherry, and you can also taste a hint of cocoa powder and a sweet tobacco finish. If you are more enthusiastic about white wine, try the Torrontés. The taste has been described as a fresh fruit salad, crisp and with a hint of honey, while the aroma will remind you of roses, jasmine and geraniums. It pairs perfectly with fish or spicy food.

Wine and meats

The National Grape Harvest festival is Argentina’s largest celebration of their wine. Taking place in the beginning of March in Mendoza, it brings wine producers, owners and lovers together from all over the world (a staggering 40% of attendees are international visitors), and offers parades, traditional dances, and an actual wine queen.

Book best flights to Buenos Aires from Chicago or Buenos Aires from Toronto.

Australia

The land down under produces some of the finest vintages in the world. The Australians seem to love their wine too; they drink 530 million liters per year, or 30 liters per person. It’s true that they don’t have any native grapes, but they have plenty of grape varieties to offer, such as Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Riesling and Merlot. Australia has such a big influence on the world of wine that they actually changed a well-established name. The famous Shiraz was called Syrah everywhere in the world, but because of the commercial success in Australia, where it was called Shiraz, the producers of Syrah worldwide decided to label their wine “Shiraz”.

Wine grapes Shiraz

One of the things that makes Australian wine unique is the fact that they invented an original formula, combining Shiraz with Cabernet Sauvignon: Cabernet Shiraz. According to experts, this wine captures the structure of Cabernet and overlays it with the suppleness of Shiraz, adding the flavors of Australian plums, blackcurrant and a hint of vanilla.

Friends drinking wine

If you’re looking for an excuse to visit Australia, here it is: during the Margaret Fire Gourmet Escape, vineyards, beer producers and restaurants will give you the wine and food experience of your life. The festival, which will take place October 16-19 in Margaret River, has won several awards, such as the Best Tourism Event and Best Regional Event.

Book great value Margaret River Resort or Quality Inn Margaret River for the entire duration of Margaret Fire Gourmet Escape.

Italy

Wine has been a part of Italian culture for over 4,000 years. When the Greeks arrived in Italy, they named the country Oenotria, which literally means ‘land of wine’. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Italy is today the second largest wine producer in the world, and one of the largest wine consumers as well, drinking an average of 42 liters per person each year.

Wine festival

There are three main wine regions in Italy: Piedmont, Tuscany and Trentino Alto Adige. Piedmont is known for its heavy red wines, such as the Barolo, Nebbiolo and Barbaresco. But it’s also the home of the sweet and bubbly Moscato. When you imagine wine in Italy, you probably picture hillsides, historical buildings and an endless amount of vineyards. What you are imagining is Tuscany, a region is known for the classics, such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Chianti. Finally, there is Trentino Alto Adige, to be found in the Italian Alps. The harsh temperature changes experienced in the mountains, from searing hot during the day to ice cold at night, cause the wine to have an excellent acidity and crisp grapes. One of the most important wines produced here is the Pinot Grigio.

Looking for an Italian food and wine extravaganza? Boccaccesca is the place to go. There are countless tastings during the three days of the festival. In fact, the choices can be a bit overwhelming, which is why the festival has experienced sommeliers who can help you find the perfect wine and bite to eat. You can visit the festival from October 6-8, in Certaldo, Tuscany.

Fly to Florence from Amsterdam for as little as $80.

France

Just like Italy, wine-making has been in France for thousands of years, and time has turned it into a true art form. It is today the largest wine producer in the world, with a staggering 50-60 million hectoliters produced each year (the equivalent of 7-8 billion bottles).

Wine and cheese

Several factors make French grapes the best in the world. One of them is the terroir, the environment where the wine is produced. France boasts the best terroir to be found anywhere, from the soil to the temperature to the topography. No two vineyards share the same terroir, which is why the country can offer so many varieties of grapes. As you may have noticed, most of the grapes that are used around the world have French names, which goes to show the quality of French grapes and the love and appreciation the world has for them.

There are countless regions that offer amazing wines, so many that we can’t discuss them all. Two of the most popular regions are Provence and Champagne. Provence is known for its crisp and fruity rosé, the region’s abundant sunshine making Grenache, Surah and Cinsault grapes a perfect blend. These grapes come from younger vines that are not ripe enough to be used in red wine. Champagne is famous for the methode champenoise, which is a traditional method of fermenting the grapes twice, turning the bottles upside down over the course of a few weeks, and leaving them to yeast for at least a year.

Wine champagne

The Fête des Vendanges Montmartre, a festival celebrating the wine harvest of Montmartre, takes place October 11-15 in Paris (this year’s theme is Freedom). To celebrate the final night, there will be a massive firework display near the Basilique du Sacré-Coeur.

Direct flights to Paris starting at $66.

California

The production of wine in California isn’t as historically grounded as the other destinations, with Spanish missionaries planting the first vineyards in the 18th century. Today there are 427.000 acres of land scattered with vineyards in the Sunshine State, leading it to produce a staggering 85% of US wine. California, with its mountains, valleys and plains, has some of the best terroirs for vineyards. This is especially true of Napa Valley, where there can be a lot of fog and a cool breeze, which makes it the perfect climate for Chardonnay and Pinot Noir to grow. Other grape varieties that are popular in Napa Valley are the Petite Sirah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec.

Wine region

One of the special characteristics of Californian wine production is the New World wines produced outside the traditional European vineyards. Because of the warm weather in California, winemakers can use ripe fruit, which gives a fruity, rather than earthy or acidic, flavor. It also gives the wine a higher alcohol percentage: 13.5% to be precise.

Want to escape the cold and harsh winter in California? Then visit the Winter Wine Classic festival in Santa Barbara on January 27th. The festival offers over 100 wines paired with delicious appetizers from the most notable chefs in California.

Fly cheap to Santa Barbara from New York or Vancouver.

This list is by no means extensive, as there are plenty of other Game of Thrones locations to discover. Find flightshotelsactivities and more at ArrivalGuides.