From California to France, Here’s How to Explore the World’s Wine Culture at Home
From the rolling Napa Valley in California to the famous Tuscan wine country and over to the quaint vineyards of Bordeaux, there are quite a few places in the world where you’re able to sip on sumptuous wine.
Pack your (virtual) bags, prepare your palate, and get ready for an incomparable adventure as we take you on a tour of the world’s best wine. Beginning in France, we’ll explore European wines before jetting off to Australia, California, and then down to the vineyards in South America. Here’s how to explore the world’s wine culture from the comfort of your own home!
What to Know About Different Wine Regions
Does it really matter where the wine comes from? Actually, yes! The climate, soil, and variety of grapes all affect each type of wine’s overall quality and taste. And certain grapes only grow in some areas of the world.
For example, Italy is home to a whopping 750 different grape varieties while France is only home to 250. Only seven of those grape varieties are the source for champagne, for example. So, while a Pinot Grigio might taste the same as a Sauvignon Blanc to you, they’re actually quite different.
If you’re keen on refining your palate, we suggest following this guide by country or by type of wine. Spend an evening tasting online wines from Italy and compare and contrast their unique flavors. Or, grab a bottle of Chardonnay from Chile, France, and California to try and see if you can taste the difference.
Italy is the world’s leading wine-producing. And for those keen on sampling the savory flavors of rich Italian wine, we suggest searching for wines labeled as “Controlled and Guaranteed Designation of Origin.” These are more exclusive and often come from one of 15 different designated wine regions in the country, including Piedmont, Lombardia, Veneto, and Tuscany.
For a light white wine with appetizers or seafood, we suggest sampling an Italian Pinot Grigio. Depending on where you get it from, you’ll find that it’s mild, crisp, and clean. Or, look for a Moscato Blanc, from the Piedmont region, for a sparkling, semi-sweet wine. Interested in Italian reds? We suggest a Barolo. It’s aromatic and filled with notes of black cherries, licorice, tobacco, and red flowers.
For the best selection of Italian wines, head over to Wine.com. Visit our offers section where you can receive 4% cashback.
When compared to French wine, Italian wine is often bolder in general, making French wine the better choice for those new to wine or who simply prefer something that pairs well with whatever you’re eating. Want to enhance your next wine night? Try sampling a bottle of wine from each of the country’s top wine-producing regions: Bordeaux, Burgundy, Rhone Valley, Alsace, and Loire Valley.
Leonardo DaVinci once roamed the Loire Valley region, and if you’d like to transport yourself to the French wine country, sample the iconic, aromatic Sauvignon Blanc and the Sancerre Rouge. The latter is made exclusively from Pinot Noir and is hard to find elsewhere outside of Loire Valley.
Red wine lovers will also particularly enjoy any wine made from the Bordeaux region’s tannic Cabernet Sauvignon grape. The wine gets aged in old oak barrels in traditional French style before being bottled, lending itself to a bold, earthy flavor.
Trader Joes offers a fairly-priced selection of fantastic French wines, including an $8 Chateau Fontana Rouge Bordeaux, which is 70% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc, and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon. Get up to 10% cashback on your purchase with a Cheese Debit Card.
If you’ve ever traveled to Spain, you’ll know just how cheap and delightful Spanish wine is! Unlike Italian and French wine, Spanish wine tends to offer the same (or near the same) caliber of quality while being more budget-friendly for travelers and students.
Due to the slightly drier, warmer client in Spain, the wines produced here almost taste warmer and lighter than France and Italy’s wines. For beginners, we’d suggest sampling a Tempranillo. Pair it with some Spanish tapas, and you’ll be able to delight and enjoy all of the flavors of Spain.
La Rioja wines are also famous for their rich flavors. If you’re in search of a generic yet flavorful red wine to pair with tapas, cheese, and more, look no further than a bottle of a Rioja Tinto. It’s a blended red wine made from tempranillo grapes, Graciano grapes, and a few others that get thrown into the mix.
You don’t have to go far to find great Spanish wine in the States! Head to Costco, Pavilions, or even Vons for a great selection. Be sure to purchase using a Cheese Debit Card to receive up to 10% cashback through our rewards program.
Red wine lovers will enjoy the varieties of wine labels available to them when sampling Australian wine. Australian wines are often fresh and fruity, suitable for consumption with pretty much any meal.
Perhaps the most famous of Italian wines is the Shiraz from the Yarra Valley. Like the lightness and warmness of Spanish wine, Australian wines also reflect the climate they’re grown in, and the Shiraz is no different. It’s lush, warm, and fruity for a glass of red wine. If you’re looking for something stronger, try sampling a Shiraz that’s aged in oak barrels for a more spicy, vanilla taste.
For a sweeter sampling, opt for an Australian Riesling. We suggest sampling labels from the Clare Valley or the Eden Valley, with the Grosset Polish Hill being one of the absolute best options for those willing to pay the price.
Similar to Italian wine, we’d suggest finding high-quality Australian wine online at Wine.com. If you purchase through our offers section, you can receive 4% cashback.
Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Pinot Noir are all typical California wines that you can enjoy (at a lower price than the same kinds you’d get from France or Italy). However, you can find numerous fantastic Merlots and Zinfandels in California, too!
When selecting a wine from California to try, we suggest sticking with the local fare. Sonoma Valley is slightly cooler than Napa, making the Cabernet Sauvignons from this region particularly flavorful. Napa, on the other hand, is known for its Bordeaux-style varieties.
If you’re interested in trying something typically “Californian,” try full-bodied and velvety Malbec, or a dry, toasty, tropical Chardonnay.
Amazon.com delivers great California wines straight from Whole Foods (and even directly from the vineyards). Sign up for the Cheese Debit Card to earn up to 10% cashback on your wine purchase.
Due to the country’s geographical position, Chilean wine is similar to Australian wine. For that reason, we’d recommend sampling a Chilean Shiraz, but if you’re interested in trying something we haven’t mentioned already on this list, look for a Carménère.
Grown in the Central Valley region just south of Santiago, Carménère is spicier and bolder than a Merlot and is often hailed for its smoky flavors. Due to the smokiness, it’s best paired with smoky cheeses and any type of smoked meat.
It’s worth noting that you can’t sample Chilean wines without tasting the country’s variety of Cabernet Sauvignons. Costco.com has a top-tier offering of this variety, and when you pay with the Cheese Debit Card, you’ll get cash back!
Exploring More of the World with Cheese
Keep a lookout for more of our exclusive multicultural content! At Cheese, we’re all about people trying new things, which is why we offer unique, culturally-diverse offers via our app and through using the Cheese Debit Card. Check back later to explore more of the world with us.