When travelling abroad, it’s impossible to be familiar with every local brand. Follow these key strategies, so you can enjoy varieties you won’t normally find at home confidently.
How to Order RED WINES
Try to do a little research on the local terminology in advance! Your Travel Designer can help too!
France: Vin Rouge (‘rooj’ – with a soft ‘j’ sound)
Italy: Vino Rosso (like Rocko, but with ‘s’)
Spain: Vino Tinto
Skip the ‘Home-Style’ Wine Service
If you receive an offer to drink red wine from a carafe, an earthenware jug, or a ‘straw-wrapped Chianti’ bottle, it’s likely going to be underwhelming. If you wouldn’t drink that in your own neighbourhood, you likely won’t enjoy it abroad either!
Expect a Different Price Point
Drink local brands to save. Drinking foreign country brands you know while actually in the country it is produced is going to be less expensive than at home because you don’t have to pay import duties and shipping costs. This leaves with you with a bit more cash to try a pricier local variety that you wouldn’t normally reach for at your local store. Just imagine how much that bottle would be at home… if you could even get it there!
Trust the Local Expert
Ask the waiter or sommelier for their best wine recommendation based on your menu selection. And, don’t be afraid of letting them know an approximate maximum bottle price you want to spend.
Identify Your Grape and Region Preference
There are many taste profile variations to Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, or Pinot Noir. Regional conditions will create vast differences in the taste of those grapes. Some will taste leaner, medium-bodied, or richer. If you know you typically prefer a full-bodied California Pinot Noir, do mention it. The sommelier will know some comparable locally-produced wines to offer you that will match your palate’s preferences.
Just Having Wine? Yes, Please
There are true lovers of wine who will simply go out and enjoy wine without ordering food. If that’s you, and you enjoy doing that at home, there’s no need to change anything about who you are. While travelling, it’s perfectly reasonable to go out for wine, even if locals expect you to order a meal with it.
Document Your Wine Discoveries
In this day and age, taking photos at the table is almost always done without batting an eyelash. If you taste a wine you absolutely enjoy, take a photo of the front and back of the bottle. The back of the bottle usually has the name and address of the vineyard and distributor. Once home, you’ll be glad you did! More often than not, you’ll be able to find or get your foreign favourites at home through local fine wine suppliers and specialty shops. At the very least, you’ll be able to recommend local wines to your friends and family who are travelling to that region.
Older – It’s Not Always Better
Unless you’re an expert who knows which years in that region and vineyard are good, don’t worry about the year the bottle was produced. Most wines are meant to be enjoyed young!
Get to know where you are. When in Bordeaux, drink Bordeaux, don’t choose Beaujolais. When in Le Marche region of Italy, drink wines from there! This will give you a much more immersive experience.
Go Natural – It’s a Thing!
Lots of producers are forgoing big agricultural pesticides and making delicious wines with minimal intervention. Some of the labels you might see are ‘natural’, ‘organic’, or ‘biodynamic’ and they’re typically available in most countries.
Rosé – It’s Okay for Gents Too
Why gender had anything to do with wine drinking seems pretty odd. Rosé was a wine thought of as something for the ladies, but that’s a super passé notion. It’s a wonderful option, especially on a hot day for women and men, alike. So, raise a glass of Rosé with confidence, guys!
We all like the sparkly now and then! Different countries have different sparkling wine appellations. In France, it’s champagne. In Italy, it’s Frizzante or Prosecco. In Spain, reach for Cava. Anywhere you are, it’s always a delightfully light option, no matter what it’s called.