Top 4 Wine Cities In Europe
Every year, lovers of wine flock to Europe’s vineyards to sample their favourite tipple. Although the rural regions of Tuscany, La Rioja and Burgundy may be amongst the most famous destinations for wine connoisseurs, there are ample opportunities to combine a city break with sampling some of the best wine in the world.
As the birthplace of Port, it is no surprise that tourists flock to Porto to sample the fortified wine with its unique sweetness. There are a diverse array of wine cellars and lodges where you can sample and purchase the local wine, with the majority of these being found just over the river in the small town of Vila Nova de Gaia. With no appointment necessary, simply check the opening days if visiting out of season in order to tour the lodges and taste a variety of the ports on offer. Back in Porto itself, recent years have seen an uplift in the production of classic red and white table wines, with tastings available in locations including Wines of Portugal and Wine Quay Bar. To sample wines from all across Portugal, head to Sala Ogival and purchase an ’Enocard’, which allows you to sample several different varieties of Portuguese wine.
The entire region surrounding the city of Bordeaux is famous for its wine. Beloved of 18th Century wine merchants, Bordeaux is surrounded by four of the best regarded wine-growing regions in Europe. To the east of the city, the medieval town of Saint-Emilion is both a wine aficionado’s paradise and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, offering over 5,000 hectors of vineyards to visit. The city’s many wine bars include the acclaimed Wine Gallery, where 48 local wines are displayed in dispensers around the room and you purchase a card of a nominated value to allow you to sample as much wine as you pay for. Alternately, if you wish to learn more about the wine that you are drinking, enrol on a short course at the Bordeaux Wine School, which offers course in English, French and German.
Surrounded by the Tuscan countryside and its many vineyards, Florence is making itself known as a must-visit destination for wine enthusiasts. If you chose to travel out to the countryside, ensure that you head for the Chianti region just south of the city to sample the most famous of all Italian wines and tour the vineyards. Within the city itself, there are a variety of popular wine tours, including express tastings at the Tuscan Wine School and the Florence Cheese & Wine Tasting, which pairs glasses of Chianti with local cheese, truffles and figs. For those who wish to splash out, there are luxury villa experiences available, where you will be chauffeured around the city and surrounding vineyards with a personal guide, sampling wine along the way.
Austria may not be the first European country that you would think of associating with wine, but Vienna has more vineyards on its doorstep than any other city in the world. To get a true representation and feel for Austrian wine, visit one of the city’s ‘Heurigers’, a tavern that serves the current year’s wine harvest. Owned by the wine growers themselves, the staff are very knowledgeable about their produce and will be able to educate you as you sip the local wine and sample classic Austrian tapas. If you would like to visit one of the nearby vineyards, head to Weritas restaurant in the Wagrum region north of the city, where you can dine in a stunning contemporary building with a glass-walled room where you can taste wines from all across the region.
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