Food & Drink

Raise a Glass: Fine Wine Around the World

Raise a Glass: Fine Wine Around the World

With evidence of wine production found in the Caucasus region (modern day Georgia) as early as 6000 BCE, wine is a drink that spans centuries, countries and cultures. Our ancestors have been enjoying the tipple almost since history books began. And as any seasoned oenophile (wine connoisseur) will know, there’s a lot more to wine than simply picking your preferred colour. Each country has its own way of classifying wine to denote quality, aging and grape variety; appellations of origin designate the geographic area in which the grapes are grown and (to complicate matters even further), each appellation has its own laws and regulations that dictate how the wine is made. For example, Italy and France play host to 329 and 360 appellations respectively. So, if you’re known to enjoy the occasional glass of vino, it’s time to pick your poison and raise a glass with the help of our list of the finest wines around the world.

  1. Champagne, France
  2. Rioja, Spain
  3. Bordeaux, France
  4. Chianti, Italy
  5. Zinfandel, California
  6. Malbec, Argentina
  7. Sauvignon Blanc, New Zealand


Champagne, France

A drink that has become synonymous with celebration, Champagne is heralded as the gold standard of sparkling wine. True Champagne hails only from France’s Champagne region and is produced using the méthode Champenoise (yeast and rock sugar added to blends of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier grapes – native to the region – to create secondary fermentation that causes carbonation). The bubbly beverage became associated with royalty during the 17th and 18th centuries, before quickly establishing itself as the iconic drink of choice during the French Belle Époque era.


Rioja, Spain

La Rioja was the first Spanish appellation to receive protected status for its renowned red varieties, such as the supreme Tempranillo grape. Given the province’s substantial size, it is divided into three sub-regions (Rioja Alta, Rioja Alavesa and Rioja Oriental), with individual microclimates and various winemaking techniques greatly influencing the character of each Rioja wine. Ranging from light and fruity to more complex expressions, Rioja remains top dog when it comes to the versatility of wines around the world.


Bordeaux, France

As France’s largest wine growing region (comprising 50 distinct appellations), Bordeaux deserves a mention on our list of wines around the world. The majority of Bordeaux wines are red, made from Merlot, Malbec, Petit Verdot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc grapes; although White Bordeaux styles are also produced here using Sauvignon Blanc, Sémillon and Muscadelle grapes. It was the ancient Romans who were the first to catch wind of Bordeaux’s maritime climate, rich soil and easy access to the Garonne River, and it didn’t take them long to turn it into one of the world’s most well-known wine regions.


Chianti, Italy

Italy is another mainstay of the wine-making industry. As the biggest wine producing country in the world today, the boot-shaped nation yields a number of well-known varieties, including Prosecco (Champagne’s Italian counterpart), Vermouth (a fortified wine), Barolo and Brunello di Montalcino (both full-bodied reds). Chianti, made from the Sangiovese grape, is another of the country’s most prolific vinos. Produced in the Chianti region of central Tuscany, the ruby-red blend contains aromas of cherry, herbs and earthy notes.


Zinfandel, California

While European wines sometimes hog the headlines, there are countless other wines around the world that appeal to the taste buds and have become iconic drinks in their own right. Zinfandel is California's flagship grape, thought to descend from a Croatian variety, which was first introduced to the Golden State in the 1850s. Typically dense and fruity, the flavour profile contains hints of berries, pepper and herbs, meaning it pairs perfectly with red meat and roasted veg. The sun-loving grape is also used to produce White Zinfandel, a light and subtly sweet rosé.


Malbec, Argentina

Although Malbec is originally from southwest France, the fruity wine is now closely associated with the vineyards of Mendoza in Argentina, where it has developed its own distinct flavour profile. Thanks to geographic and climatic features, Argentinian Malbec possesses notes of warm plum-pudding-like fruits, lifted by flower petal notes and completed with velvety tannins. When aged in oak, the wine develops cocoa, vanilla or tobacco nuances. And perhaps more importantly, Malbec Argentina’s has become an essential accompaniment to the nation’s signature dishes of asado (grilled meat) and bife de lomo (fillet steak). Put simply, Malbec and steak are a match made in heaven.


Sauvignon Blanc, New Zealand

Another wine with roots in France, Sauvignon Blanc has since set up shop on the other side of the world in New Zealand. Commercial production of New Zealand Sauvignon began in the 1970s and the country has since established its own benchmark style, stemming from Marlborough. Described as aromatic, fresh and vibrant, with flavours of tropical fruit, gooseberry, grapefruit and bell peppers, Sauvignon Blanc pairs well with seafood, Asian dishes, tomato-based sauces and citrus fruits. Wines from the warmer northern regions of New Zealand take on a fruitier tone, while bottles produced in the south are crisper and more acidic.

Written by Luisa Watts