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Travel

A Food Lover's Guide To The Best Wine Destinations

Nadia El Ferdaoussi picks some of her favourites.

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Love wine, will travel? Then you’ll enjoy this list of destinations to visit for wine lovers, says FOOD AND WINE contributor Nadia El Ferdaoussi.

Travel and wine go hand and hand and I’ve never met a wine-producing region I didn’t like, it comes with the territory (or the terroir) that they’re some of the most stunning landscapes in the world. Wine tourism is rapidly on the rise, so let’s look at four popular destinations to visit.

1. Rías Baixas, Spain

Known not only for its Albariño but for the stunning fresh seafood, including oysters, clams and percebes, this part of Galicia is a food and wine lover's paradise. The shellfish is perfectly paired with the crisp local coastal white wine, of course, and there is an abundance of both. You can stay in the city of Pontevedra, do the Rias Baixas wine route and visit Santiago de Compostela, the end of the Camino pilgrimage where you can make it your own mission to see the food market, Mercado de Abastos de Santiago.

READ MORE:  Where Are The Best European Destinations For Sparkling Wine?

2. Stellenbosch, South Africa

Something that surprised me on my first visit to Stellenbosch was just how young and lively it is. Just 45 minutes from Cape Town city centre, the charming university town is the perfect base to explore some of the local wine routes. Something you have to try while in South Africa is the country’s very own grape variety, Pinotage. You can even experience the ‘Pinotage Root’ which will bring you to Simonsig Estate, Kanonkop, Beyerskloof and L'Avenir, known as the some of the best producers in the region.

3. Alentejo, Portugal

Some of the best value wines in the world are coming out of the Alentejo region of Portugal. Lesser-known than the Douro, but deservedly starting to attract a lot of its own attention.

Enotourism is fairly new here, meaning hotels are clued into the modern traveller’s needs and the value for money extends to accommodation and experiences. Skip high summer when temperatures soar, opting to go in May or October instead. Use the historic city of Évora as your jumping-off point and expect full-bodied red wines made with Aragonês (Tempranillo) and Alicante Bouschet.4.

4. Santa Barbara, USA

Loved the film Sideways? Well, there’s a new wine movie to watch which will make you want to go to Santa Barbara just as much. If you haven’t already seen the Somm series of documentary films, now is the time. The latest instalment is inspired by the 1976 Judgement of Paris blind tasting in which Napa wines took the top spot over some of their Bordeaux counterparts. This time, a Santa Barbara Pinot Noir was described as the “most Burgundian”, alongside wines in the line up which were actually from Burgundy. A light has been shone on the region again, the difference is this time, with the rising popularity of wine tourism, I see a bigger uptake in wine lovers heading to the county.

There’s no debating that wine tastes at its best at the source, in the surroundings where it was made, with the food which grows nearby. Wine geeks, gastro-tourists and casual wine-lovers alike are flocking to wine-producing regions in the hope of enjoying a more experiential form of travelling. You can take home the memories, but maybe, more importantly, you can ship back some tangible souvenirs too.

Author: Nadia El Ferdaoussi

Dublin native, Nadia is a freelance travel writer whose plan is to wander the globe until the novelty wears off (if that ever happens). Despite travelling to exotic locations the world over, her favourite country is Ireland, “when the sun shines, there’s no better place.” Her dream job would be mystery shopping in hotels, since she has a keen eye for detail and already spends most of her time living out of a suitcase. Nadia has a newfound passion for wine and is quickly moving up through the ranks in terms of wine education. Her bucket list destination? Antarctica. 
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