Wade Cothran | Oct 09, 2020
6 Unique Wine Tasting Experiences to Try
Are you a true wine lover? If so, chances are you’ve already started putting together a list of wines you’d love to try, and a list of experiences that need to crossed off the bucket list at some point in your life.
The world of wine is so varied, so interesting, and so packed with incredible encounters and traditions, there’s really no shortage of items that could make it onto any wine lover’s bucket list.
We were keen to get involved and start putting together a list of our own… and after very careful consideration, we’ve managed to whittle our list down to six unique wine tasting experiences. Cheers!
Wine Bucket List #1: Champagne Tasting in the Region’s Limestone Caves
When it comes to fine wine, few regions have the kind of clout enjoyed by Champagne. This iconic French wine region is home to some of the most coveted and sought-after wines in the world, boasting a history and set of traditions that laid the groundwork for so many to follow.
What makes Champagne so very special? It’s hard to say, exactly. It’s partly about that expression of terroir - a sense of time and place - that wine producers love to talk about, and partly down to the quality of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes that grow there.
It’s also something to do with the sense of prestige that the Champagne Maisons exude by the bucketload, and the beautiful limestone caves and chateaux in which the wines are aged. To partake in a Champagne tasting in these caves, and to hear from the experts and producers in such evocative settings, is surely at the top of any sparkling wine lover’s list of wished-for experiences!
Wine Bucket List #2: Try a Glass of Assyrtiko from the ‘Stefani’ Vines of Santorini
If you haven’t yet discovered the incredibly crisp and vibrant Assyrtiko wines of Santorini - arguably the most beautiful of all the Greek islands - then there isn’t a moment to lose. Get yourself down to your favorite wine merchant, snap up a chilled bottle of this remarkable white wine, and see for yourself what all the fuss is about - you won’t regret it for a moment.
If you’re the kind of wine drinker with their finger on the pulse of the international wine scene, then Assyrtiko must have popped up on your radar in recent years. The finest of all of Santorini’s signature wines are those made from grapes grown on the ‘stefani’ vines - an age-old tradition of weaving the vines around one another to protect the fruit from the harsh winter winds that batter the island. This process allows the grapes, which already contain mountains of flavor thanks to the volcanic soil, to achieve even greater levels of ripeness and expression, offering a taste sensation that’s unforgettable.
Wine Bucket List #3: Go Grape-Crushing in Chianti
Few wine-related images are more evocative than that of the grape-crushing festivals of traditional Italian villages, where joy-filled locals stamp, barefoot, on the grapes, allowing them to release their juices in preparation for vinification. Very few wineries still employ such practices (even the majority of traditional wineries employ industrial methods nowadays).
However, there are still some villages in the Chianti hills of Tuscany, Italy, where grape-stamping still takes place. It looks a whole lot of fun, and it’s a great way to get involved in a practice that stretches back to the earliest histories of viticulture! Just make sure you visit during the harvest, usually between September and October.
Wine Bucket List #4: Drink a World-Class Madeira
What comes to mind when you think of fortified wines? For the majority of us, two styles reign supreme over all others: Port from Portugal, and Sherry from Spain. Madeira has long since been seen as the lesser cousin of these fine and traditional fortified wines… but that’s all changed in recent years. Madeira has made a comeback as a result of some absolutely remarkable bottles coming off the tiny Atlantic island.
The best Madeiras on the market now are nothing short of extraordinary and burst with spices and sweetness that outstrip any Port or Sherry. They also come with a fascinating story to tell: a history of seafaring and adventure, of piracy and exploration. Today’s Madeira might not be made in the traditional method - by loading barrels onto ships, and using the rocking of the waves as a fundamental part of the process - but they do recall everything that made this wine style such a game-changer in the 18th century, and offer whole worlds of flavor and aroma to explore.
Wine Bucket List #5: Sip a Hungarian Wine and Enjoy the Historic Charm of Royal Tokaji
It’s fair to say that Hungary doesn’t have much of a reputation for winemaking nowadays, following a turbulent 20th century in which many of the historic vineyards in the west of the central European country were more or less destroyed, or turned over to Soviet-style mass production.
However, if you were to travel back a few hundred years, you’d discover that Hungarian wines - and especially the golden sweet wines of ‘Royal’ Tokaji - were the absolute height of fashion right across the continent. Fascinatingly, many of those original wineries, which were the favorites of Queen Elizabeth I and Marie Antoinette, among others, are still going strong, and still producing remarkable wines in their own unique and unusual fashion.
Tokaji wines are typically made from Furmint grapes which have been withered on the vine and subject to ‘noble rot’ - a parasitic fungus which shrivels the grapes and concentrates the sugars and flavors within. The resulting wine is intensely delicious - syrupy, sweet, and bursting with flavors of roasted nuts and candied fruit. If you aren’t normally a fan of dessert wine or sweet wine, this is one that has what it takes to convert you wholeheartedly.
Wine Bucket List #6: Have Wine From the World’s Oldest Vines
Where are the world’s oldest continuously cultivated grapevines? You might imagine - and nobody would blame you for doing so - that they’d be in Bordeaux, or the Tuscan Hills, or somewhere with an ancient wine culture, such as Georgia or Armenia. You’d be wrong: they’re in Australia.
Fascinatingly, the world’s oldest vines are in Barossa Valley in Australia, where they were planted in 1840, and have been tended ever since. Because Australia avoided the devastating phylloxera epidemic of the late 19th century, which wiped out most of Europe’s vines, these historic Shiraz grapes have become legendary; beautiful, gnarled, and twisted vines, producing grapes which express the remarkable terroir like no other. Give them a try, and see for yourself!
There you have it - six unmissable wines and wine experiences that every true wine lover should seek out in their lifetime. Do you know what else is unmissable? The stylish, unique, and highly effective wine glasses, bottles, and accessories from BrüMate: the perfect way to take your home bar, picnic, or wine collection to the next level!