10 most unique wine tastings in the world


There is wine tasting, then there is wine tasting. There is nothing wrong with visiting a vineyard, gazing at the manicured rows of vines and marveling at the large barrels before sitting down at a table to taste the produce. Add to that a superb location, a good restaurant offering wine pairings or an unusual souvenir shop, and you’ve got that little something extra.

But there are places that go even further so as not to get bored while tasting your wine. Some offer an unusual way of tasting wine; others offer a unique way of making wine or a place just as exciting as the wine itself.

Here is a list of great experiences that even your non-wine travel companions will enjoy. If you are looking for a truly memorable experience, read on.

1. Medoc Castles Marathon, France

Let’s start with probably the weirdest way to drink wine: by running a marathon. Each year, the Marathon des Châteaux du Médoc takes place in and around the town of Pauillac in the Bordeaux wine region. The runners, often in disguise, take to the track to cover 26 miles punctuated by 23 stops. At each stop, they sample some of the region’s best cheeses and other snacks and drink a glass of wine. Needless to say, closer to the finish line there are hardly any runners left and people are walking in various states of intoxication, but they are full of joy! For an unusual event with friends and great memories made along the way, why not try it?

Pro tip: While you’re in the area, head to Cap Ferret, just west of Bordeaux, for some of the best beaches in France.

Photo credit: Benny Marty / Shutterstock.com

2. Franschhoek Wine Tram, South Africa

Much smarter than running is sitting in an old-fashioned double-decker tram as it passes through South African wine country and stops at regular intervals for you to explore the vineyards. It’s a safe and leisurely way to taste wine, with transfers from Cape Town to the tram stop and back, leaving you worry-free of drinking and driving. This is a hop-on hop-off tram, so you can move on to the next winery or stop for longer at one with a good restaurant for lunch.

Pro tip: There are several tram routes through different vineyards, so it’s worth doing your research before you start tasting.

3. Underwater wine tasting, San Francisco

Yes, it’s a bit of a gimmick, but it’s all about unusual places and ways to taste wines. And the Sottomarino Winery, which hosts tastings in a former US Navy training submarine on Treasure Island near San Francisco, is about as unusual as it gets. Sottomarino Means “underwater” in Italian, and the wines are grown from Italian varieties in California. Treasure Island, a man-made island built in the 1930s for the Golden Gate International Exhibition, has lovely views of the San Francisco skyline and is a great day out.

Pro tip: Learn more about the island at the Treasure Island Museum before returning to town.

4. Cave Royale, France

Built in the 18th century for the steward of King Louis XV, this cellar next to the Louvre is a historic setting, unique and very suitable for wine tasting. It’s a complete sensory experience! Discover French wines on a guided or self-guided tour, during a private wine tasting or during a dinner with wine pairings in one of the underground rooms. You will even meet the resident oenologist.

Pro tip: Once you’ve learned and tasted it, why not hunt down some of Paris’ hidden vineyards to complete your experience?

5. Underwater Winery, Croatia

Located about an hour north of Dubrovnik on Croatia’s beautiful coastline, you’ll find a truly different wine cellar. Underground we’re used to, but submarine? Edivo Vina stores its bottles, sealed in amphorae, deep in the Adriatic, and, if you feel like it, you can put on your scuba gear and dive in to retrieve your bottle. There is even a sunken ship nearby. It would seem that the even temperatures and the calm underwater benefit the wine – you can see it for yourself when you are back on dry land.

Pro tip: You can also book a private wine tour on the peninsula and be safely dropped off at your hotel at the end of the day.

Grape whales under the snow in winter.  The grapes are covered with snow
Photo credit: Evgeniy Goncharov photo / Shutterstock.com

6. Icewine, Canada

Originating in Germany and Austria, Icewine is a product of mild riesling or white vidal. This is called ice wine because the grapes are left on the vines until the end of winter and are allowed to freeze, making them much sweeter. Niagara-on-the-Lake Ice House is one of Ontario’s many wineries, but it’s the only one that produces Icewine, and even sells Icewine slushies. Sounds perfect for a summer day, doesn’t it?

Pro tip: This winery is a few miles from Niagara Falls – you can decide if the falls or the wine is the main attraction.

7. Wine and chocolate, Australia

Hahndorf, just inside Adelaide in South Australia, is a quaint former German colony that transports you to Bavaria, with southern German architecture, restaurants, and events. It’s a good spot for a day and you can add to the fun by booking a wine and chocolate pairing at Hahndorf Hill Winery. At this perfect event for chocolate and wine lovers, you can taste not only local wines, but also Australian and French chocolates made from cocoa beans grown in Australia.

It’s great fun to spend the day wandering around little Hahndorf, shopping for local treats like their superb honey, then relaxing over chocolate and wine before heading to a local restaurant for a good German sausage.

Pro tip: Hahndorf is the gateway to the charming Fleurieu Peninsula and just 15 miles from Kangaroo Island, a must visit in the state.

8. Vineyard Cycling Tour, Italy

Umbria, a province in the heart of Italy located roughly halfway between Florence and Rome, is dotted with vineyards and vineyards. The region is best explored by bicycle. Umbria by Bike offers a variety of cycle routes, but the Montefalco Vineyard Circuit is by far the most cultivated. You’ll travel approximately 60 miles through five main wine regions, stopping at each to taste the produce. Running between March and November, the tour is suitable for novice cyclists, with trails mostly on asphalt. Different bicycles are available for hire, even electric, to make your life easier.

Pro tip: This is a round-trip tour starting and ending in Montefalco, so why not book yourself a room in the charming Orto degli Angeli, a palace with a beautiful garden and four-poster beds. It is the ideal place to relax after a day of cycling.

A girl picks grapes in Portugal Algarve
Photo credit: Sergio Sergo / Shutterstock.com

9. Residential wine residence, Portugal

If buying a chateau in France to run your own vineyard is a bit out of reach, you can always buy a holiday home in the Algarve in Portugal to try and run your own vineyard. The Vines is a new concept of turnkey properties set in vineyards. Along with your vacation home, and within sight, you can own or rent your own private vineyard and start producing your personal brand. Local experts are on hand to teach you everything you need.

Pro tip: The Vines is located along the Algarve wine route, on the southern edge of Portugal. It’s a perfect road trip, winding between beaches and coastal towns and some vineyards.

10. Tasting of the South Pacific, Tahiti

A vineyard on an island in the South Sea? Yes – on Rangiroa Atoll, more than 3000 km from any continent, there is a vineyard. Vin de Tahiti was created by a Frenchman in the 1990s and today produces some 3,000 cases of wine from two or three harvests each year. It’s a 55 minute flight from Tahiti itself, so getting to the vineyard takes dedication, but it’s a truly special wine experience. Rangiroa is also a great place for scuba diving, for beaches and for an idyllic getaway thousands of miles from civilization.

Pro tip: This remote part of the world lends itself perfectly to cruising, allowing you to discover more than a single island while you’re at it. Choices range from single cruises and Paul Gaugin-inspired excursions to budget boat trips.

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