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Everything You Need to Know About Wine Tasting Abroad

Picture of Lori Zaino
Updated: 10 August 2017

Wine tasting abroad can be loads of fun. Sampling new varieties and styles of wine is something you don’t always have access to in your home country, so doing it when traveling can be really special. Make sure to check out this list of wine tasting tips before going abroad.

Plan in advance

Make sure to organize your winery trips beforehand. Typically, you can’t just walk into a winery and immediately be led to a tasting. When planning your trip, select where you want to go to wine taste ahead of time, make phone calls, send emails and create reservations when necessary. You wouldn’t want to fly all the way to your desired wine country and then not be able to taste, so do your research beforehand.

Plan your winery visits in advance | © Michael Jansen/Flickr

Plan your winery visits in advance | © Michael Jansen/Flickr

Learn a few wine-related words in the local language

Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to talk about tannins in French or Spanish? It will make you seem smarter and more cultured, after all. Plus, you may actually get what the tour guide is telling you if you’ve brushed up on your wine-related vocab, which is always a plus. At minimum, learn how to say red and white, plus stop or more. These four words can make all the difference!

Don’t overdo it

While it might seem fun to get tanked while wine-tasting, feeling ill during the bus ride home or having a mad hangover while sightseeing the next day may not be so great. You need to have your wits about you when traveling, so make sure to alternate wine with water and drink in moderation when tasting abroad.

Wine tasting | © noviceromano/Flickr

Wine tasting | © noviceromano/Flickr

Don’t wear white

This tip is appropriate for wine tasting in any scenario, not just abroad, but as you’ll be living out of a suitcase, you don’t want to ruin any outfits. Even if you carefully handle your reds, you never know when a drop will spurt from pouring, or someone may bump you. Wearing dark colors will cover any spills or accidents so you don’t look silly for the rest of the day (or trip) in case there’s a wine faux pas.

Don’t drive

This could be true of drinking alcohol in any country under any circumstances, but driving when wine tasting abroad could have disastrous results, especially when you aren’t sure how your body will handle a foreign substance, are fighting jet lag or simply have had too much to drink. Dealing with local driving laws, regulations on driving while under the influence, or worse, hospitals or jails, are definite vacation-ruiners. Rather than have to figure out if you’re okay to navigate Spanish back roads after several Rioja varieties, avoid the situation altogether by organizing alternative transport – this goes back to the first point of carefully preparing your trip in advance.

Buy a bottle (or two)

Prices are usually much cheaper when buying directly from a winery or if you’re tasting at a shop, and they may offer a special discount for those participating in the tastings. Plus, it will be a great souvenir from your trip, and wine also makes a perfect gift for friends and family back home.

Buy some wine to take home | © Lori Zaino

Buy some wine to take home | © Lori Zaino

Have fun

Wine tasting abroad is fun, so enjoy it! Take lots of photos and/or notes about your favorite wines to document your experience, or simply sip and savor. Setting your trip around key wine times like the harvest, around festivals like the wine-throwing festival in Haro, Spain, or to include special spots like the Frank Gehry-designed Marqués de Riscal winery and hotel in Elciego can make your visit even more amazing.