Wine and travel go hand in hand. Wherever we go, we love to indulge in local wine – especially if we’re visiting an area known for producing fantastic wines. Luckily, we cruise to some of the best wine regions in the world.
1. Bordeaux, France
Bordeaux is the largest wine-growing region in France. Over 700 million bottles are produced there every year, ranging from basic table wines to some of the most prestigious wines in the world. This is a red-wine lover’s paradise. In Bordeaux, a smaller cruise ship means better parking – we dock in the city centre of Bordeaux.
This “Delightful Havens” itinerary in 2015 visits Bordeaux, as well as other popular destinations like St. Jean De Luz, Lisbon, Bilbao and Barcelona. Wine lovers will want to join a Land Discoveries excursion to St. Émilion, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
2. Australia and New Zealand
We’ll be sailing to Australia and New Zealand for the first time in 2015, and we couldn’t be more excited. Rainforests, reefs, waterfalls and wine – there’s something special about being Down Under. We have five voyages exploring this dazzling region.
While in Australia, visit the Hunter Valley. The first vines were grown here in the 1820s, making it the oldest wine region in Australia. The region’s iconic Hunter Valley Semillon is a must-try, but we’re also looking forward to tasting Shiraz, Chardonnay and Verdelho. In New Zealand, wine lovers will enjoy visited the famous Marlborough wine region while the ship is docked in nearby Picton. New Zealand wine is growing in popularity all over the world, and the area is widely thought to produce the best Sauvignon Blanc.
When we think of Spanish wine, we think of Cava. This Spanish sparkling wine is closer in taste to Champagne than Prosecco. It’s made in the Mediterranean Coast region, making Barcelona a wonderful cruise port for fans of Cava. This Costa Brava to Cinque Terre itinerary begins in Barcelona, and also visits Roses and nearby Girona, known for rosé wines.
Bilbao, Spain is close to the Rioja region of Spain and has been producing wines for over one thousand years. The area is famous for Tempranillo – a big wine with a high tannin that pairs well with rich meat.
Croatia is known for ancient walled cities, a sparkling coastline, and increasingly, high-quality wines. The warm, sunny Dalmatia region along the Adriatic Sea is perfect for fruity white wines that pair perfectly with seafood.
Many of the country’s best wines are made in this coastal region. Anthony Bourdain helped bring fame to Croatian wine and cuisine when he visited for his television show No Reservations in 2012. The port cities of Dubrovnik and Split, as well as the islands of Hvar and Korcula, are all fantastic destinations for wine-lovers.
5. Tuscany, Italy
Italy is known for huge variety, and is the world’s largest wine producer. It’s also home to some of the oldest wine-procuding regions in the world – and one of the most famous is Tuscany. This area is home to the famous Chianti wine, as well as Brunello di Montalcino, and the region’s most renowned white wine, Vernaccia di San Gimignano.
The port city of Livorno is the gateway to Tuscany, and we have many upcoming voyages there. Florence, birthplace of the Renaissance, is the major city in the area. Nearby, the medieval city of of Lucca is reached via a beautiful drive through the Tuscan countryside. Lucca is home to a gorgeous family villa where Azamara guests have enjoyed a new Insider Access tour.
6. South America
Argentina is the largest wine producer in South America, and its wines are growing in popularlity across the world. It’s most famous for Malbec wines, so be sure to order a glass while visiting Buenos Aires.
Nearby, Uruguay is now gaining more international recognition for its wines. The Tannat varietal has become the small country’s signature grape. During this January 2015 cruise, you’ll begin with three days in Buenos Aires, and can visit picturesque wineries near Montevideo and Punte del Este, Uruguay.
7. Provence, France
Provence has been making wine for at least 2,600 years – ever since the ancient Greeks founded Marseilles in 600 BC. Today, Provence is known for fantastic rose wines, as well as full-flavored reds.
This November 2015 cruise to the South of France, Provence and Spain is like a dream come true for wine lovers. During this cruise, you can enjoy wine tastings and chateau visits in several ports, or sign up for a Provencal Cooking Class in the famous Bandol vineyards.
Wine production in Malta dates back to the time of the Phoenicians, over two thousand years ago. Since the 2000s, wine production on the small island has boosted, and quality has improved. While in Malta, you’ll find Merlot and Chardonnay, but don’t miss out on local varietals too – Gellewza and Ghirghentina are full-bodied and flavorful. Maltese food is equal parts Sicilian and British, with a slight Arab influence.
When visiting Malta with Azamara, wine lovers should consider a Land Discoveries tour and wine tasting at Marsovian Vineyards. This August 2015 cruise is a fantastic itinerary, featuring stops in Malta and Sicily.
Germany is renowned for beer, but is also famous for sweet white Rielsing wines. The medieval town of Lubeck, Germany, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, has a wine trade dating back to Hanseatic times. While in Lubeck, try Rotspon. This local specialty is a wine made from grapes that are processed and fermented in France, before being transported in wooden barrels to Lubeck to be stored, aged and bottled.
This August 2015 cruise to Scandinavia, Hermany and Russia makes for a unique summer vacation.
10. Sicily, Italy
Thanks to Sicily’s warm climate, their red wines are dark, rich and fruit forward. Here, you’ll want to try a variety called Nero d’Avola. Sicily’s established vineyards are also known for producing Cabernet Sauvignons and Chardonnays. However, what Sicily is truly known for are outstanding dessert wines – so bring your sweet tooth!
Sicilian cuisine is built around fresh fish, seafood, fruits and vegetables, with Arab and North African influences like raisins, pine nuts and saffron. Experience the food and wine culture of Sicily during this April 2015 cruise, which stops in Catania.