Find it hard to decide on a wine? Do you often want to try something new but find yourself picking the same familiar varieties?
It’s time to embrace a sense of adventure and make a new discovery for your drinking pleasure! Most connoisseurs will agree that when hunting for a new wine to try, considering the region in which it is produced will often be the most powerful indicator of how the wine should be characterized.
Winemaking traditions vary from region to region, influenced heavily by climate and geography for the type of grapes that are grown. Quality control aspects also play a large role, such as the preferred temperature storage, the stages of fermentation, the degree of irrigation and the type of container in which the wine is fermented and preserved. Collectively, these factors will refine the variety of wine for the enjoyment of consumers both in their respective home countries and abroad.
Here is a guided tour of three regions in South Africa, Lebanon and Portugal that have perfected their own unique style of winemaking, along with some recommendations for wine worth trying:
Robertson Wine Valley (South Africa)
The Robertson Wine Valley is regarded as one of South Africa’s premier wine destinations. The industry in the region has grown from less than 25 cellars in 1995 to more than 50 registered wine cellars today. Many wine cellars receive recognition each year both locally and internationally. Wine tourism plays a fundamental role in stimulating the economy in the area, with new wine festivals and activities planned throughout the year.
Although the valley produces a wide range of grape varieties for all types of wine, Robertson is known for its elegant white wines, creating both tasteful chardonnays and award-winning sauvignon blancs. More fine reds such as shiraz and cabernet sauvignon have emerged recently, resonant with the bold, fruity flavor of South African wines that are known as being both easy-to-drink and affordable.
Wines to Try:
Bekaa Valley (Lebanon)
The Bekaa Valley is situated between Mount Lebanon and the mountain range forming the border between Lebanon and Syria. At more than 1,000 meters above sea level, the valley extends 120 kilometers in length. Limited rain and ample summer sunshine perfectly allow for the valley’s vineyards to produce grapes that ripen quickly and easily. More than 60 wineries in this region produce over six million bottles per year.
Lebanon’s famous vineyards and wineries stretch along the Bekaa Valley of Lebanon, which is also known as the cradle to the world’s biggest empires. It is where the Romans decided to build the Temple of Bacchus, holding within its walls the mysteries and secrets of winemaking.
There are several significant wineries with vineyards in the southern Bekaa Valley. The most popular is the Chateau Ksara, producing almost 70 percent of all of the country’s wine production. One wine to try from this region, Le Prieure, has a bright, ruby-red intensity and an exotic, fruity aroma, colored with spicy and licorice accents. While Le Prieure would go well with lambs and stews, Les Gourmet Rouge from Clos St. Thomas makes for a fantastic pairing with red meats and spicy food, with a smooth, dry taste and deep color.
Wines to Try:
Douro Valley (Portugal)
The Marão and Montemuro mountains shield humid winds from the lush landscapes of the Douro Valley, a region characterized by its beautifully twisted ribbons of vineyards and cobbled roads. This stretch of calming green terrains in the northern provinces of Portugal has a microclimate of hot, dry summers and harsh winters, which is suitable for cultivating olives, almonds and especially grapes. The variety of grapes grown in the Douro Valley are essential to producing the world-famous port wines.
In production, port wine is fortified by adding a neutral grape spirit known as aguardente (similar to brandy) to suspend the fermentation process. As a result, port wine differs from unfortified wines by having a higher alcohol content and bearing a richer, sweeter and heavier taste. Often served as a dessert wine, port wine is typically sweet and red, although there are dry, semi-dry and white varieties.
Wines to Try:
Robertson Valley via Wikipedia
Bekaa Valley via Wikipedia
Douro Valley via Wikipedia