All around the world we can experience different cultures, lifestyles and cuisines. Wine is a fantastic example of how different climates and landscapes across the continents shape the produce that is grown there to create something unique to the area. Even though you can reproduce the same types of wine in other countries, each blend brings something different and is unique in its own right. When travelling the earth on a world cruise you’ll be able to experience this first-hand, and will find that even the simplest of things, like a glass of wine, can change considerably from country to country.
In this article, we travel around the world in eight wines. Starting in Argentina and ending in Australia, we look at some of the best wines you can sample around the globe.
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Sweet and rich notes reminiscent of cooked fruit which offer a burst of flavour
Originally from the south of France, Malbec has now found its firm home in Argentina. It was traditionally known as ‘the black wines of Cahors’ due to the intensely dark colouring of its berries, and its place of origin. The grape is now the most widely grown in Argentina, and the high temperatures gifted by the climate mean these wines often have soft, ripe tannins along with high levels of alcohol.
Pair Malbec with: Malbec pairs well with red meats, hard cheeses and rich tomato sauces.
Crisp wine with notes of green apple, fig and citrus. When aged it produces buttery overtones
Chardonnay is one of the most popular white wines in the world, and although the grapes originated in the Burgundy wine region of France, they are now grown all around the world. One of the major locations in California, which is the fourth largest wine producer in the world, and whose most-grown grape is Chardonnay. It was first grown in the 1940s but by 2005, California could account for almost a quarter of the world’s total Chardonnay plantings. The characteristics of a Californian Chardonnay are fruity notes of mango and guava, which makes for a refreshingly light wine.
Pair Chardonnay with: Soft cheeses, light fish dishes and light meats like chicken or turkey.
Sweet with notes of nectarine, apricot, honeycomb and lime
A white grape, Riesling wine is a sweet and aromatic blend that originated in the Rhine region of Germany. Thanks to its traditionally cooling flavours, it’s considered one of the best wines to pair with powerful flavours, particularly spicy dishes. It’s also highly terroir-expressive, which means its flavour changes greatly depending on where the grapes are grown, which gives every bottle its own unique flavouring and characteristics.
“You can find Rieslings from bone dry to super sweet, which makes it an extraordinarily versatile food partner.”
Wines of Germany is the UK marketing arm of Deutsches Weininstitut which promotes German wine in Britain. So who better to ask about Reisling? We caught up with the team and asked them about the key characteristics of Riesling wine. “This is an interesting question, as Riesling is a grape variety which gives a really diverse range of wines.
“The wines all share a firm, fruity acidity – but each have their differences due to the range of regions, terriors and ripeness at harvest. These natural factors are reflected in Riesling’s broad spectrum of aromas and flavours, ranging from citrus or crisp apple, to ripe peaches or tropical fruit, often layered with a mineral, herbal or spicy finesse.
“You can find Rieslings from bone dry to super sweet, which makes it an extraordinarily versatile food partner – some of the ‘classic’ pairings for Riesling are blue cheeses for the sweeter styles and Asian foods, as Riesling’s aromatics and sweetness works well with spicier notes.”
Lastly, we asked the team why Germany is an important cruise destination for wine enthusiasts: “Germany has 13 different wine regions, some of which have been producing wine since Roman times. Germany is home to Riesling (often cited as the king of white grapes!) and well-known for its production of Pinot Noir (of which it is the world’s third largest producer) – among so many other varieties! All of these factors make it an exciting place for any wine enthusiast looking to learn more and discover. On top of this, each region has its own particular style, but all have amazing countryside, river valleys and picturesque towns and villages.”
Pair Riesling with: Riesling wine can be paired with both light, delicate dishes and meals with rich flavour
Rich flavour with notes of raspberry, blackberry, caramel and chocolate
Port is a fortified wine produced exclusively in the Douro Valley in the northern provinces of Portugal. Fortified wines have a distilled spirit added to them, which in the case of traditional Port, is a neutral grape spirit. This adds more sugar to the drink and also raises the alcohol level. Port is named after the city of Porto which sits at the mouth of the Douro River and is thought of as the home of this delicious tipple.
“The final result is a taste of heaven to your palate.”
We spoke to André Apolinário, co-founder of Taste Porto, who told us why he recommends that everyone try Port whilst in Porto: “Port wine is a magical beverage, which has its foundations in Roman times, later coming to be the first appellation wine region in the world. Its uniqueness comes from the combination of a breathtaking landscape shaped by man to grow grapes, one of a kind indigenous grape varietals and a harsh climate, that almost makes it impossible for vineyards to withstand such conditions. The final result is a taste of heaven to your palate, that you can use as an appetiser beverage, to go with a meal, or to go along with desserts. You can even prepare cocktails, such as Porto Tonic, with white port wine, tonic water, ice and lemon zest.”
André then told us what he recommends pairing Port with for the most authentic experience: “I would recommend drinking white port with some olives while enjoying the sunset, Vintage Port with a dark chocolate mousse and Tawny port with a Pastel de Nata to close a meal.”
Pair Port with: A salty cheese or a rich, chocolatey dessert
Clean, crisp wine with notes of peach, apricot and white currants
Malvasia is a wine grown in the hot climates of the Mediterranean and the Canary Islands. But it’s actually on the island of Lanzarote that the wine is most popular. The incredibly unique volcanic black soil of the island gives it a distinctive flavouring, although the grapes have to be cultivated in a different way to normal vine growing. Malvasia was popularised by William Shakespeare, who references it in several of his works, including Twelfth Night, The Merry Wives of Windsor and Henry IV.
“The volcanic ash that fell on the soils, was a winemaking miracle and is the only reason vines can withstand the distinct lack of rainfall on the Island.”
We spoke to the team at Wine Tours Lanzarote, who told us why everyone should try Malvasia whilst in Lanzarote: “While in Lanzarote, trying the Malvasia Volcanica is quite simply a must. Not only is this varietal unique to the Island, but so little is produced that you are unlikely to find a bottle anywhere else.
“Lanzarote falls outside of the norm in terms of its geographical position for winemaking, which was only made possible following the famous volcanic eruptions on the Island in the years 1730 to 1736. The volcanic ash that fell on the soils was a winemaking miracle and is the only reason why the vines can withstand the distinct lack of rainfall on the Island. This has led to a unique and spectacular landscape, with viticulture that needs to be seen to be believed. The pre-phylloxera vines, many of which are well over 100 years old, are grown in deep pits in the volcanic ash and the mineral-rich soils which lie beneath, shine through into the wines.”
We then asked what they would recommend Malvasia is paired with: “The crisp, tropical and citrus flavours of Malvasia Volcanica match perfectly with the climate of the Island and also go great, with some freshly landed local fish. Or why not try one of the sweet Malvasias with some delicious, cured, local goats’ cheese. After all, it was the sweet Malvasias of the Canaries that in the 16th century were sought after the world over.”
Pair Malvasia with: Fresh seafood dishes and light, creamy desserts
Chenin Blanc, South Africa
Fresh and fruity, with tart notes of Granny Smith apples and lime
Chenin Blanc is one of the least well-known wines on this list but is incredibly popular in South Africa. Originally from the Loire Valley of France, it is now South Africa’s most widely planted grape, and is known locally as ‘Steen’. This grape has high levels of acidity, which makes it perfect for sparkling wines as well as dessert wines. A typical Chenin Blanc has an off-dry clean and crisp flavour, perfect for refreshment under the South African sun.
“It is, in many ways, a perfect mainstream wine. But the South Africans don’t need to be told this – they’ve been making the most of its potential for a long time.”
We spoke to Michael, travel blogger at Time Travel Turtle who is a big Chenin Blanc enthusiast. He’s even interviewed Ken Forrester, one of the leading winemakers in Stellenbosch and Chenin Blanc buff.
Michael had a lot to say about the wine: “When you start to learn about Chenin Blanc, you wonder why the grape has historically not been better known around the world. It is, in many ways, a perfect mainstream wine. But the South Africans don’t need to be told this – they’ve been making the most of its potential for a long time.
“Chenin Blanc is an aromatic varietal that can be used to make a range of white wines from dry to sweet. It’s a relatively sturdy grape to grow and is generally quite affordable for the consumer. It can also make great wines that will age well, unlike many other white varietals. When you’re visiting South Africa, you’ll find a delightful range of flavours as you taste different Chenin Blancs.”
Michael told us what he learnt from his interview with Ken Forrester: “South Africa grows about two-thirds of the world’s Chenin Blanc, and local producer Ken Forrester is the grape’s biggest advocate. He believes that because Chenin Blanc is so versatile and has been used for bulk winemaking in the past, people don’t believe it has special qualities. But Mr Forrester says that it actually has a lot of nobility and gains in complexity as it ages. He is seeing a global trend towards more aromatic white wines, and the Chenin Blanc is a perfect varietal for consumers looking to sample something new.”
“Chenin Blanc is one of those white wines that if you know it, you love it.”
We also spoke to Allison Levine from Please the Palate, a marketing expert and event planner in the wine and spirits industry. Allison gave us her take on Chenin Blanc: “Chenin Blanc is one of those white wines that if you know it, you love it. While it has been under-appreciated by many, it is loved by others. It is a versatile wine that can produce sparkling or still wine and dry or sweet wine. Chenin Blanc is originally grown in the Loire Valley in France, but the most plantings outside of France are in South Africa. It is the most popular white wine grape in South Africa and represents 18% of the total vineyard plantings. What makes Chenin Blanc so enjoyable to drink is that it has a beautiful texture and mouthfeel. The wine can have aromas that include pineapple, apricot, peach, papaya, apple, citrus and minerals and on the palate, it offers bright acidity.”
Pair Chenin Blanc with: Strong flavoured dishes like curries or warm fruit desserts.
Fruity, nutty and caramel-like flavour, richness described as somewhat ‘umami’ or savoury
Sake is unlike any other wine of this list, as it is traditionally created by fermenting rice rather than grapes. This means the flavour of Sake is unlike the flavourings of any other wine, and it’s actually more akin to beer. Sake is thought to have been created as early as the third century and thus has a rich history and practices associated with it. For example, it’s traditional to serve sake in your guest’s cup, but not your own.
Pair Sake with: The most popular sake is very dry and pairs well with pork belly or fish dishes, however lighter and more aromatic sake is recommended for sushi and ramen.
Rich, fruity wine with notes of blackberry, chocolate and liquorice
Shiraz was one of the first varieties of wine brought to Australia and has established itself well in the country. In fact, with vineyards dating back to 1843, Australia is home to the world’s oldest Shiraz vineyard that is still producing grapes. Shiraz is grown in every wine region of Australia which gives it a complex array of flavours just from one country. Thanks to the high levels of tannins in Shiraz, it is thought of being one of the healthiest red wines.
“When it comes to Australian wine no other grape is more synonymous than Shiraz”
We spoke to Stuart Barclay, the general marketing manager at Wine Australia, who told us why Australian wine is a must try when in the country: “Australia’s unique climate and landscape have fostered a fiercely independent wine scene, home to a vibrant community of growers, winemakers, viticulturists, and vignerons. With more than 100 grape varieties grown across 65 distinct wine regions, we have the freedom to make exceptional wine. We’re not beholden by tradition but continue to create our own traditions and push the boundaries in the pursuit of the most diverse, thrilling wines in the world. There is something for everyone.”
We then asked why they believe Australia produces the best Shiraz in the world. “When it comes to Australian wine, no other grape is more synonymous than Shiraz. As the most widely planted wine grape, Shiraz is versatile, premium and has character. Shiraz continues to dominate the Australian wine scene with its bold, ripe flavours and easy-drinking nature.”
“The Australian wine scene is simply buzzing!”
Casey from The Travelling Corkscrew has been an avid wine blogger since 2010. She began blogging while working in fine wine sales in Dubai. Her passion for the wine world has continued to thrive, and she now inspires people to try new wines and travel to new wine destinations through her blog. “When I was 15, my after-school job involved helping out at a local winery, where I helped in the vineyard, winery and labelled my fair share of wine bottles,” said Casey. “Since then, my interest in the wine world has continued to grow one sip at a time."
“The Australian wine scene is simply buzzing! It is such a large country which means there’s a lot of diversity in the grape varieties, wine styles and techniques used to make wine. Many wine regions are easily accessible from the major cities, which means you can go from the city to a cellar door in under 30 minutes in some parts of the country - that’s pretty special!”
We asked Casey for her thoughts on Shiraz, and what to pair it with: “Shiraz is an Australian wine icon. It is the most widely planted red wine grape variety and is grown in every single wine region in the country. It’s a pretty versatile grape, as it can be grown in both cool and warm climates which means it produces a wide variety of styles.
"Aussie Shiraz is classed as medium to full bodied and it can complement an array of dishes. From the good old Aussie barbecue in the backyard to spicy Asian cuisine like an Indian curry. If you have a bit of a sweet tooth, then you’ll be happy to hear Australian Shiraz also teams up really well with dark chocolate.”
Pair with: Hearty meat dishes like barbecue or a beef stew, and strong hard cheeses