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3 Unforgettable Wine Tasting Holidays in Europe

Fancy learning a little bit more about the wines of Europe? If you are a wine drinker, a fruit lover or culture hound then these are some of our most loved wine tasting holidays that will delight your senses.

Be enchanted by the Douro Valley

As one of our favourite regions for cool, crisp white wines, a guided experience in the Douro Valley is perfect for fruit lovers everywhere. What can’t we say about this grape rich region. If you are searching for a Tuscany alternative then this provides a superb back-drop for a romantic escape. Everywhere you look you will be surrounded by nature. As one of the oldest demarcated wine regions in the world, the UNESCO listed site is a bucket-list trip trip for wine lovers.

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Get a Taste of the Costa Brava

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This is our not so hidden gem. A tour that will delight the senses and awaken the spirit in the beautiful Catalonia countryside. Soak up the sunshine and breathtaking views of the Do Emporda wine region. The area begins next to the stunning peaks of the Pyrenees and runs down through the landscapes of Catalonia.

Wine from this region is usually 30 years old. Red wines are generally make from Garnacha Tino and Samso. The traditional grape of Tempranillo and more popular Syrah and Mermot can also be found. Each bodega you visit in DO Empordà is a treat. We highly recommend spending a night or two in beautiful city of Girona when you are in the region.

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Discover a Taste of Sintra

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If you want to sample the luxurious landscapes of Portugal then Sintra is the place to be. This UNESCO world heritage site is covered with pine trees, grapes and ancient ruins. A stop at the Palacio Nacional da Pena is just one of the highlights on this wine experience. The soils are unique to this part of the world and the wines of this region are often described as herbal, perfect for all of us herb enthusiasts.

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To book one of the above delicious wine tasting holidays feel free to reach out to one of our travel team anytime.

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5 Amazing European Food Adventures for Summer

From culinary treats to wine enthusiasts to local foods, we have put together our list of top food adventures for food and nature lovers.

Europe is full to the brim of exciting foods to try. From the vineyards of Italy to the shellfish on the Wild Atlantic Way, every food tour is unique and bursting with flavours.

Treat yourself to a taste of Europe with these amazing food adventures for summer time.

A Taste of Ireland: Coast to Coast Food Experience
Find yourself rambling along the Wild Atlantic Way to get a taste of the stunning landscapes of Ireland on this 5 day foodie experience. The sheep will greet you as you discover the green landscapes and walk the coastal tracks in some of the most peaceful locations on the Island. Get a taste of the Craic agus Cheoil, stopping into the local pub along the way. This tour is ideal for small groups and we guarantee that you will learn a thing or two from the local foraging experts before you finish.

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Hunting for Truffles in Northern Italy
A perfect combination of romance and luxury, this Italian tour will enlighten your taste palette. Starting in Alba, renowned for it’s world famous white truffles, you will join the local food experts as we hunt for truffles in the lush countryside of Italy. Finish each day with a traditional meal and enjoy a slice of luxury with this unique tour. If you are a pizza, pasta or wine enthusiast than this is the perfect foodie experience for you.

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Wine tasting and Wine Making in the Algarve, Portugal

From breathtaking beaches to walking by the cliff edges, the Algarve is one of our favourite sun soaked locations in Europe. The natural landscape remains relatively untouched and there is a distinct feel of local pride for everything that the region has to offer. Sample the local wines, learn the skills of wine making and taste the famous bacalau.

Discover the delights of the Douro Valley

Northern Portugal is packed full of wonderful foodie treats. On this unique food adventure you will get to taste the grapes, sample the wines and try delicious local cuisine in the famous Douro Valley region.

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A Food Filled adventure in Burgundy, France

On this foodie experience you will team up with local wine and foraging experts. They will teach you how to hunt for truffles and you will have the chance to sample the rich, local wines. Visit the magical city of Dijon int the heart of Burgundy where you can taste the best local dishes in Michelin starred Pre aux Clercs Restaurant. You can also visit the Fontenay Abbey and the spectacular Chateau Ancy-le-Franc. You are in a country rich in history so be sure to soak in the past.

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For more information about any of our food filled adventures please contact one of our travel specialists.

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Wine Tasting Guide for Beginners

Contrary to belief you don’t need to be part of any elite group to enjoy a sip or two of some of Europe’s finest wines. Wine tasting has never been more accessible with so many delicious grape varieties to choose. However, there are some tips from the wine experts that will help you to develop your wine palette and understand the different flavours that the top wines product.

If you are not a professional Sommelier or wine expert then you may find it difficult when choosing the right variety of wine to pair with your food for your next dinner party. Remember that people have different tastes so you might not please everyone but you can give it a good try.

Before you decide on your wines decide what you would like to showcase the most. If you are trying to highlight your best dish, showing off all of the ingredients then you won’t want to pick a wine that over powers the meal. Where as if you selecting a wine as a pairing for a cheese board you may want to get a more full bodied wine that compliments the cheese.

TIPS FOR PAIRING WINE AND FOOD CORRECTLY
Store wine in a cool, dark place.
If you are trying a dish originating from a region see if there is a local wine to pair with it. As the saying goes, what grows together, stays together!
For wines high in acidity, avoid bitter ingrediants and focus on foods high in fat.
In general the wine should be sweeter than the food.
Pinot grigio for light fish dishes and Chardonnay for rich fish dishes with sauce.

DO PAIR
Chianti and Pasta dishes
Zinfandel or Malbec and BBQ
Sauvignon Blanc and Goats Cheese
Pinot Noir and Roast chicken dishes

DON’T PAIR
Pinot Noir and red sauced pasta dishes (bolognese, lasagne)
Spicy food with strong wines
Champagne and cake (sweet plus bubbles is generally a no no)


Ideal Serving Temperature for Wine

The best temperature for red wine is 62-68 degrees.
The best temperature for white wine is 49-55 degrees.

HOW TO TASTE WINE IN 7 EASY STEPS

  • Look – It should be clear. For reds, the darker the better.
    A visual inspection of the wine under neutral lighting
  • Swirl – Release the aroma, the bouquet
  • Sniff – Give your nose a boost of flavour
  • Sip – Let the wine sit in your mouth. Don’t swallow.
  • Breathe – Take a deep breath and give the wine aromas a chance to fill your senses.
  • Swig – Now it’s time to take a bigger gulp and enjoy a full taste of the wine.
  • Savour – Develop a complete profile of a wine that can be stored in your long term memory.

TOP 3 WINE FLAVORS TO ENJOY

Fruit flavors (e.g. peach, blackberry, plum, current)
Herbal flavors (e.g. bell pepper, mint, oregano)
Flower flavors (e.g. roses, lavender, iris)

TOP EUROPEAN WINE TASTING EXPERIENCES

For more information on any of the above wine filled adventures please get in touch with one of our travel team.

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VINHO VERDE: EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW

WHAT IS THE VINHO VERDE

Often sparkling and always crisp and fresh, the Vinho Verde is one of the most famous wine regions of Portugal. The Vinho Verde wine region starts just below the Portuguese-Spanish border, and extends all the way to the Atlantic Ocean, where it meets with the city of Porto. Dominated by the white grapes, these wines are indigenous to the Northern Portuguese area. These conditions keep the region cool and breezy. The weather and granite soils account for the bracing freshness of the wines.

The region is also fairly wet and rainy, as two rivers run through it, the Douro and Minho. A common misconception is that the “verde” part of the name (meaning “green” and pronounced vaird) refers to the color of the wine or the idea that the wine should be drank young. The name for Vinho Verde comes from Portugals lush green landscapes.

In the northwest corner of Portugal, Vinho Verde is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the west, mountain ranges to the east and south, and the Minho River to the north. The Douro River runs through the southern tip. These conditions keep the region cool and breezy. The weather and granite soils account for the bracing freshness of the wines.

Most Vinho Verde is a blend of white grapes, all indigenous to Portugal, but there are two predominant grapes that winemakers are starting to see as more interesting than the others: Alvarinho and Loureiro. You may be familiar with Albarinho, a different spelling but essentially still the same grape, from northern Spain. In Spain, Albarinho tends to be somewhat rounder and softer than its Portuguese counterpart. Alvarinho displays tropical aromas and an overall lemony character and is high in acidity; Loureiro is more floral, and also acidic.

THE HISTORY

When the Romans arrived in Portugal around 2000 years ago, people were already making fermented drinks. Wine in Portugal is part of daily life, and many families have a small plot of land where they grow grapes alongside vegetables and citrus trees. All over the Vinho Verde region, you’ll see grapevines hung in the beautiful Pergola style, draped high above where the cool breeze protects them from moisture and mold, arranged in a square around a family or neighborhood garden. In the lush, green, rolling hills of northern Portugal, dotted with the orange rooftops of family households, is the region where Vinho Verde wine is produced. Although there are several origin stories behind its name, including the idea that it is harvested early and should be drunk young, many people in the region suggest that the name comes from the verdant natural setting.

THE WHITE GRAPE VARIETIES

  • Alvarinho
  • Avesso
  • Arinto
  • Azal
  • Batoca
  • Loureiro

VINHO VERDE WITH FOOD

All over Portugal, seafood is the dominant cuisine, particularly the meaty white fish bacalao (cod). One of the most typical regional dishes is creamy rice with hunks of cod or monkfish, or shrimp. White Vinho Verde is high in acidity, which makes it ideal for pairing with all forms of seafood, particularly when complimented by a rich sauce or a coating of fried breadcrumbs; pork and potato dishes are also quite common. The fact is, Vinho Verde is great by itself, but if you are looking for an affordable white wine that’s delicious with light foods and all manners of sea creatures, you’ll definitely have a perfect pairing with this crisp, bright juice.

TASTE TRAILS AND VINHO VERDE EXPERIENCE

Join one of our orchard adventures in the Douro Valley region to learn more about the Vinho Verde. Here are our most popular experiences in Northern Portugal:

Comprised of nine sub-regions in the Douro Valley, each with unique micro-climates but generally dominated by granitic soils, the Vinho Verde wine region starts just below the Portuguese-Spanish border, and extends all the way to the Atlantic Ocean, where it meets with the city of Port (where most Port wine is made). The region is also fairly wet and rainy, as two rivers run through it, the Douro and Minho. In fact, the white wines are generally a pale straw color, and some can age beautifully. Reds and rosés are also produced. But the name for Vinho Verde comes from the region’s environment, which is lush and green.

You may be familiar with Albarinho. In Spain, Albarinho tends to be somewhat rounder and softer than its Portuguese counterpart. Alvarinho displays tropical aromas and an overall lemony character and is high in acidity; Loureiro is more floral, and also acidic.

For more information about this delicious wine known as the Vinho Verde and where we can take you try some please contact one of our travel team.

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4 UNIQUE EUROPEAN TOURS FOR WINE LOVERS

You have seen the decorative labels in your local wine store, you have tasted the goodness of wines straight from the shelves but would you like to know more about where these delicious grapes come from? Our tasting tours are designed for wine lovers who love to get to know the grapes and meet the famous wine producers of Europe. Here are a selection of our top picks for wine enthusiasts:

Douro Valley Adventure

The grapes of Northern Portugal avail of a special climate where the valleys of the Douro bask in the sunlight and the winds from the Atlantic ocean sweep through the vineyards. The soil is rich in nutrients providing flavoursome wines for you to try out year round. From the sweetest ports to dry whites that pair well with the fresh fish from the nearby coast, this is an epic wine tasting experience for all to enjoy.

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Burgundy Food and Wine Experience

A world class wine destination Burgundy wines can be found in most reputatable wine stores throughout the world. However, visiting the region is an extra educational journey through the heart of France.

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Alba Wine and Truffle Tour

Luxurious, sensual and memorable are three words to describe a tour through this stunning region of Italy. Our wine and truffle experience in Alba is simply unforgettable. Along the way you will have the chance to meet the wine producers, taste the land and sip of bold vintage wines.  

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Travel through the Vineyards of Tuscany on Two Wheels

Cycling through the Italian countryside is an unforgettable experience. Join the locals to learn about the best wine on offer in the region of Tuscany. On this wine filled adventure you will discover the beautiful landscapes of Italy, taste famous Italian produce and sip the most delicious Italian wines.

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For more information about any of these handpicked tours for wine lovers please contact one of our travel specialists.

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PICK YOUR OWN WEDDING WINE IDEAS

Have you recently gotten engaged? Well this is a time for celebration and what better way to celebrate your upcoming happily ever after than a trip to some European vineyards to sample the top wedding wines on offer. You don’t have to wait for your honeymoon for your next getaway and planning your wedding should be fun, exciting and a learning curve.wine-tasting-pick-your-own-wedding-wine-orchards-near-me-tour

From one bride to another, believe me the last few weeks do get a little stressful so the more you enjoy the initial engagement highs the better. A pre-wedding getaway can be just what you and your partner need before you go through with the biggest commitment. It was a friend that suggested these itineraries as she wanted to embark on a wine filled adventure herself. Now we can’t get enough of them.

We have come up with our top tours for picking out your wedding wine. Each itinerary will give you the chance to sip on the local wines, meet the producers and even learn about the production process. What a lovely way to incorporate a personal experience into your wedding drinks.  

Here are the top ‘Pick your own’ wedding wine tours:

BURGUNDY WEDDING WINE ADVENTUREwedding-wine-ideas-france-adventure-orchards-near-me

Bring a touch of class to your wedding menu with luxurious wines from the famous region of Burgundy. If you are considering a burgundy wine than why not plan a tasting experience to learn about the region, meet the producers and see the wines on offer. Home to some of the worlds renowned wines like Domaine Denis Mortet, Domaine Armand Rousseau and Chateaux des Quarts.

Our two day Burgundy wine experience will give you a true taste of the land.

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ROMANTIC DOURO VALLEY VINEYARD EXPERIENCE

This UNESCO listed region of Northern Portugal is one of Europe’s most stunning and fruitful areas. The mild atlantic climate and terraced vineyards make this wine destination extra special. Start your romantic adventure in the lively town of Porto. The next morning you will be picked up by expert guides who will bring you to the heart of the valley to taste the local wines. In the busy wedding planning phase there is always time to stop for a picnic and a glass of vinho.

This two day tour is the perfect combination of food and wine.

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WINES OF TUSCANY WEDDING WINE TOUR

Are you an adventure lover? If you and your fiancé are outdoor enthusiasts than how about a cycle through the heart of romantic Tuscany. You will cycle through some of the most stunning landscapes, passing vineyards and orchards as you pedal. Enjoy staying in the medieval mountain-top villages, tasting the delicious local Italian cuisine and getting the opportunity to sample the best local wines that you can choose for your wedding package.

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LUXURY WINES OF ITALY TOURwedding-wine-engagement-celebration-in-europe

This is a trip to Italy’s premier food and wine region of Alba. Famous for it’s rare white truffles and delicious red wines this tour will bring a bit of luxury to your wedding menu. As home of the Ferrero Rocher and nutella you can incorporate delicious local Italian chocolates and wine into your big day. With our experts guides you will discover all that is on offer over the course of a 4 day trip, staying in the most unique accommodation and farmstays.

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How to choose my wedding wine? Here are a few tips to look out for…

  • Wine professional and good vineyards will provide bulk wine packages for weddings that are good quality and not overly expensive (depending on what you are looking for)
  • Think food rather than season – whites with fish, bold reds with beef
  • Food pairings matter
  • How much will you need?
  • Don’t forget reception drinks

Where will you get your wedding wine? This is the fun part. Let’s go explore and enjoy every moment of this magical time together.

For more information on any of our wedding wine ideas and tours please contact one of our travel specialists.

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Map of the Italian Wine Regions

When you think of Italy you must think of wine. Fields bursting with vines, heavy with ripened grapes and dying to be picked. Italy is home to some of our favourite vineyards and here is a simple map of the Italian wine regions to wet your tastebuds.

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Veneto

Romance, history and the floating city of Venice make this region of Italy a tourist hotspot. This is actually the largest wine producing region of Italy. Keeping with its romantic nature the area North of Venice is known for prosecco production as well as some refreshing white wines. It’s mediterranean micro-climates makes is perfect for producing sparkling dessert wines and you will find plenty of fizz on offer when you visit.

Tuscany

Discover the famous rolling hills of Tuscany when you visit any of the fantastic vineyards in this wine region. Some of the most renowned wines in the world come from this area. Wine is embedded into most aspects of life in Tuscany. The grapes hanging from the vines, the old houses on ancient vineyards and the tasty food pairings make it the perfect combination of food and nature. Chianti is certainly the most famous wine of the region and was established in 1932. Try the merlots and the cabernet sauvigan warm reds when you are in the area.

Piedmont

With the highest number of classified wines this area has some of Italy’s best rated wines. If you are a berry fan (as we are) then you will enjoy the red Dolcetto wine with its hint of blackberry flavour. You will stumbleupon wonderful producers around the area of Alba where you can pair the wines with the famous local truffles. If you have been lucky enough to taste an Asti wine than there is a high chance it came from Piedmont as they produce over 60 million litres of this sweet white wine each year.

Emilia

Dating back to the 7th century, the wine production in this area of Italy is prolific and leave you with long lasting memories. Taste the local frizzante, sparkling wines, for a true taste of summertime.

Lombardy

Northern Italy is packed full of wine producing areas but Lombardy holds a special place in our hearts. Located near the Adda River, the vineyards here enjoy a mild climate and produce tantalizing red wines and sparkling delights. It’s location between the Alps and the po basin makes it an extra special place to visit at harvest time.

Umbria

Medieval villages and iconic towns like Assisi make Umbria a must visit place when you are on tour in Italy. The benedictine monks were the first to plant vineyards here and the red wines are warm and bold. They have benefited from their world renowned neighbour, Tuscany and use their traditional Italian style to their advantage.

Abruzzo

The Montepulciano grape is famous in Abruzzo and throughout the world today. This region is widely known for its rose wines and mountainous landscape.

Marche

The Verdicchio grape is a sure encounter when you visit the Marche wine region of Italy. This is an acidic, dry white wine that goes perfectly with any fish dish on offer.

Puglia

When in Puglia you have reached the heel of Italy. Vineyards and olive groves create a patchwork blanket look in this region. Full bodied reds are a staple part of the diet in this area and you will enjoy getting to know the flagship primitivo grape that is famous in the towns of Lecce and Manduria.

Lazio

Last but least is the Lazio wine region. Home to the capital of Italy, Rome, the volcanic hills of Lazio make the ideal landscape for crisp, white wines.

Wherever you go in Italy have a sip or two of the scrumptious wines on offer. You will learn about the land, the nature, the climate and the culture through its many delicious varieties of grapes.

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SPANISH GRAPES: WINE REGIONS OF SPAIN

Let’s take a look at some of the fruit filled vineyards of Spain. Where are the wine regions of Spain and what delicious wines can we enjoy from the areas:

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CAVA

Pay a visit to the home of Spanish sparkling, and immerse yourself in Cava while taking in the mountain scenery and sun-drenched beaches. We’re talking about Penedés, an area of Catalonia in north east Spain — its capital Sant Sadurní d’Anoia is less than an hour by train from Barcelona.

RIOJA

You’ve probably drunk plenty of this region’s delicious wines, but perhaps not considered it for a holiday…Until now. With 60,000 hectares of vines spread over three provinces, Rioja might be vast — but if you know where to go it can make an unforgettable getaway.For easy winery hopping head to Haro Train Station Wine Quarter, where you’ll find the highest concentration of century-old wineries on the planet – in September they run the Haro Wine Festival… Or if you want to get involved with people throwing over 100,000 litres of red wine at one another, arrive June 29 for the Batalla del Vino, or ‘wine battle’. The mixture of these grapes often combines sweet flavours with sour and rich, producing some of the most unique wines in the world.

Rioja wines spend extra time ageing. Joven (young) wines are released without any oak ageing and have a pure fruit character. Crianzas spend one year ageing in barrel and one in bottle. Reservas spend one year in barrel and two in bottle. Gran Reservas age in barrel for no less than two years, and three more years’ ageing in bottles.

ANDALUSIA

Finally, Jerez, the ancient heartland of Andalucía and fountainhead of Sherry wines. Forget any preconceptions you may have about all Sherry being sickly sweet or for nonagenarians — it’s multiplicity is staggering and it’s prized in the hippest hottest tabancos.

You won’t have to work hard to get a taste, the city is packed with bodegas and every pavement has its bars, with tables made from blackened Sherry butts.You can also wander about the small, flat town centre on foot, confident in the knowledge you’re never far from a cool glass of fino.In the early morning or evening, climb to the top of the Moorish fortress Alcázar, the view of Jerez vineyards stretching to the horizon is well worth the effort.

VALENCIA

The Valencia wine region is one of the oldest in Spain. Grapes have grown in Valencia since the Neolithic Era. Most of the wine produced here is exported around the world, putting Valencia on the international wine map!

Though it is situated along Spain’s east coast, most of the vineyards are located deeper inland. The sandy, chalky, limestone-rich soil of Valencia produces a wide variety of wines, including world-famous Moscato grapes.The ageing process in Valencia is different than that of Rioja or Ribera del Duero. Crianza wines are only cask-aged for three months, while Reserva wines are aged for no less than six months.

CASTILLA Y LEON

This region of Spain producers some of the most renowned wines such as Ribera del Duero, Rueda and Bierzo. The traditional wine making in the area dates back to Romans. The red wines are held in high regard with the tempranillo of Castilla y Leon making it to restaurant tables throughout the world. In addition to it’s famous wines, this region is home to some of Spains most important historical sites, with over 300 castles and 400 musems.

RIAS BAIXES

Most famous for the crisp, white Albariño grapes, Galicia offers everything to the budding wine enthusiast. Located on the Atlantic coastline the Rías Baixas this region of Southwest Spain offers some of the best vineyard experiences. To sample some of the best known Rias Baixes wines head to the old town of Pontevedra or the lively city of Vigo for some tasters.

For a taste of the wine regions of Spain you can try some of our taste trails in the different regions or contact us to arrange a private grape picking experience.

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