The Monarch Guide to Wine Tasting
Europe produces some of the best wine in the world, and you can find over half of the world’s vineyards here. To make things easier for you, we’ve selected some of our favourite European wine tasting experiences – from the hills of Montepulciano to the rugged coast of Madeira.
Wines the region is known for: Vin de Pays d’Oc, Vermentino, Chardonnay, Grenache, Muscat, Semillon, Cabernet Sauvignon, Clairette, Cotes de Rhone, Syrah, Viognier
At the cross section of three famous wine regions, Provence, Languedoc-Roussillon, and the Rhone Valley, Nice is the ultimate starting point for a wine tasting adventure.
There are plenty of options for exploring these three powerhouses of wine production; from wonderfully leisurely bike tours through the Languedoc-Rousssillon, cycling in the idyllic countryside peppered with pretty towns and villages, and stopping en route to sample locally produced artisan cheeses, charcuterie and breads. Alternatively, splash out on a private wine tour through Provence, with its ancient ruins, medieval chateaux and rolling fields of purple lavender, or head to the Rhone Valley, home to some of the most internationally renowned wineries, including the world-famous Chateauneuf du Pape.
Wines the region is known for: Castelli Romani, in particular Frascati
Although Rome is not known as a powerhouse of Italian wine production (hire a car and head north to Tuscany or south to the Amalfi Coast for this), there’s still plenty to explore in and around Lazio, and, with Rome being the nation’s capital, it also boasts some of the finest restaurants allowing you to explore food and wine pairings from all over Italy. But if you’re keen to taste the best the Lazio countryside has to offer, then it’s got to be Frascati, which has been produced in this region for almost two thousand years. Known by the Romans as ‘The Golden Wine’, Frascati has rather unfairly earned a modern reputation as a not particularly special table wine, but head out to the vineyards of the Castelli Romani, and you’ll find local producers using modern techniques to produce excellent wines to rival the best the country has to offer.
Wines the region is known for: Madeira wine, Port
The lovely island of Madeira, located several hundred miles southwest of the Portuguese coast has quite a reputation for wine production, and in particular for the wines produced at the vineyards of Faja dos Padres. The island’s fortified wine heritage dates back to the late 17th century, and Madeira wine was even said to have been used to toast the Declaration of Independence in America in 1776. Today, there are plenty of wine shops around the capital, Funchal, where you can sample the best of the island’s offering, but the best way to really get under the skin of Madeiran wine is to visit one of the well-organised wineries. Blandy’s and Olivieras are both excellent options, where you can explore the history of production, learn about the fortification process, and taste the various styles on offer.
Wines the region is known for: strong reds & rose wines including Lagos, Portimato, Laoga and Tavira DOC
Although Portugal’s Algarve is best known for its great beaches and five-star golf resorts, it’s also offers some fabulous wineries in the surrounding countryside. The climate is temperate and warm, and the soil perfectly suited to producing fabulous reds, for which the region is specifically known. Quinta Dos Vales offers an excellent English-speaking tour covering local wine production and giving you a chance to sample the wines along the way. Believe it or not, Cliff Richard also owns a winery in the region called Adega do Cantor, which produces the award-winning Vida Nova. Set in a stunning hilltop location, offering stunning views of the surrounding vineyards right down to the ocean, this is also well worth a visit, and you can stock up on wines to take back home.