There are many different grape varieties that allow wine producers to create a diverse range of wine, different grape types are suited to different climates and so wine regions tend to focus on the grapes that are most suited to their climate. For example Chardonnay is best grown in dry warm climates whilst Sauvignon Blanc has been more successful and is traditionally grown in areas that have a more temperate climate.
From the citrusy kiwi Sauvignon Blanc to the Oaked Italian Chardonnay, there is a wealth of tastes to cater for all wine lovers around the world.
But do not be fooled into believing that all Chardonnay's are heavily oaked or all Rieslings are medium dry. Whilst traditional fermenting encouraged the use of oak casks to add strength to the Chardonnay grape variety, many now are only lightly oaked or indeed not fermented in oak casks at all. I challenge you not to be put off by a bad experience with any of the notable (or less notable!) grapes, there is a such a diversity of taste from region to region and vineyard to vineyard you should try several different wine with the same grape before making up your mind.
I would also encourage you to try some of the lesser known grape varieties, often produced by the smaller boutique vineyards... Go on holiday to France and persuade yourself not to drink you usual Sancerre (Sauvignon Blanc) and Chablis (Chardonnay usually), ask to try another Sauvignon from the Loire Valley, or ask for look out for a White Burgundy (they don't just make good reds!). And say no to the Red Corbieres and Clarets', and instead try a wine from Bordeaux or Burgundy. When in Italy say no to Soave and Pinot Grigio, instead try a Pinot Bianca or Falanghina... be bold and order a Barolo not the Lambrusco... you are after all on holiday and you might be presently surprised by what you don't rather than what you do know!
Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear recommendations especially if you've just had a really good wine.
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See our notes on wines by country
Wine by Region
I have only been to a few wine regions, and would love to go visit some more but I've written a few wine notes on my experiences. If you have been to any regions than we'd love to hear about your recommendations, or if you've had any sour grapes experience, you can tell us where to avoid!
Marlborough, South Island. New Zealand
I recommend hiring a bike, most of the rental company's will pick you up if you've over tasted and drive you back to your hotel. Start of at Cloudy Bay, move on to Allen Scott opposite and then use the map to point yourself in any direction, as you're now in the heart of the Marlborough region a plethora of decent, many boutique vineyards to choose from. This region is particularly famous for its Sauvignon Blancs and Pinot Noirs.
The Hunter Valley, New South Wales, Australia
One way to enjoy the grape and avoid the driving is to hire to hire a minibus and driver, as if there are a few like minded of you the driver will take you to all the best places (or maybe all the places he gets the best kickbacks from!). This region is particularly famous for Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Chardonnay, Semillon and Verdelho.
Stellenbosch, South Africa
There are beautiful walks and drives in this area of South Africa, with dramatic and stunning views to be seen from almost anywhere. The Vineyards are quite spread out, so the nominated driver should limit his tasting or use the tubs to spit out what has been tasted! You'll often have to pay for your tasting - unlike in Australia and New Zealand. But not very much and I felt less obliged to buy afterwards. Lots of wonderful Pinotages here (This is actually the South African version of Pinot Noir), and Chenin Blancs.
Have you been to these regions or other regions? Lets us know if you agree with me? Or add to our regions guide.