What’s better than cheersing to “Drink Wine Day”? And with it quickly approaching, I’m inspired to share some amazing wine-related experiences I’ve been lucky enough to have while travelling outside of Canada.

1. Douro Valley, Portugal

Portugal’s Douro Valley, about an hour away from Lisbon by car, is home to some of the finest wines the world has seen. So, when I was planning my honeymoon, I HAD to experience a wine hotel! We had a fantastic experience at Douro Scala; not only were we treated to port wine made with grapes grown right on site, but each morning we awoke to the stunning view of the hotel vineyards. We enjoyed dining there too, not to mention being poolside.

Douro Scala Hotel
Waking up to vineyards at Douro Scala, and enjoying the view by the pool

Tip: If you’re looking to splurge, consider Six Senses Douro Valley; staying there overnight might be a bit steep, but at least plan to have lunch or dinner at its restaurant (if you have dinner there like we did, try to the leek gratin – you won’t be disappointed). Not only is the food amazing, but the sommelier thoughtfully pairs your meal with the most amazing local reds, whites and ports.

2. San Sebastian, Spain

San Sebastian, AKA Donostia, is the culinary marvel of Spain’s Basque region and, arguably, Europe overall. The city boasts the most Michelin star restaurants per capita, and has been featured on many TV shows, including the late, great Anthony Bordain’s Parts Unknown.

San Sebastian pintxo
This brie-filled, black sesame baked pintxo was delectably paired with a bold red from Spain’s La Rioja wine region

With that in mind, it will come as no surprise to learn that one of my top wine-related experiences was there. Not only is San Sebastian known for its stars, but also for its tapas, known as pintxos (“pin-choss”). Naturally, we had to try some for ourselves, so we booked a local food tour.

That’s where we were introduced to Agerre’s txakoli, a dry, sparkling wine that is poured in a unique way, keeping the oxygen out and the fizz in. What a treat!

San Sebastian white wine
Agerre txakoli white wine owes its origins to Spain’s Basque region

I just LOVE Spain—its hustling, bustling cities, its beaches, its art, its countryside. From Barcelona, to Madrid, to Costa Blanca, to the white villages of Andalucía, to the island of Mallorca, Spain has it all.

3. Skadar Lake, Montenegro

While exploring Montenegro by car, we stumbled upon a quaint winery town called Virpazar. We were trying to navigate towards a park near Skadar Lake, which we never found. (Sometimes Google Maps just isn’t your friend!) Coming across Virpazar was pure luck. And by that point in the day, we were ready to relax a little at a local winery.

Eco Resort & Winery Cermeniza
You may not think of wine when you think of Montenegro, but Virpazar will change that!

Little did we know that in September, most of the wineries close after the summer crowds go back to work and school. But we were lucky to find Eco Resort and Winery Cermeniza! We were the only visitors, so we got a personal tutorial and tasting inside its cave-like cellar, plus a guided tour through the grounds. Sometimes, misadventures turn into the best adventures!

wine country, Montenegro
Montenegro’s wine country is a beautiful region to visit.

4. Santiago, Chile

 Another one of my favourite wine experiences was touring a local winery in Santiago, Undurraga. Their cellars date back to 1885, and they’re very proud of the history they’ve built. We were introduced to a grape I’d never heard of, the Carmenère, which offers an unexpected, yet inviting, peppery undertone.

Undurraga-Chile

Not only did I buy two of these red wine glasses to take home (which I packed around for 3 weeks afterwards across the rest of Chile, Argentina and Brazil), I still have them! Every time I use them, I’m taken back to this pleasant vineyard and its tasty wines.

Do you dream of exploring Chile? I’d love to inspire your trip with ideas from my own Chilean adventure: “Volcanoes, Penguins and Wine, Oh My!”.

PS…Being a proud British Columbian, I also need to plug wine touring through the Okanagan Valley. We are blessed to live in this beautiful province, and lucky to have some of the best wineries in our backyard!

Cheers!

Melissa

My Top 4 Wine Experiences from Around the Globe

Feb 18 2020