Whether in South America, Europe, or the States, wine lovers want to know one thing: where’s the best wine? Tracking down the best of the best when it comes to vino often requires sleuthing through online forums or querying hotel concierges. Sidestep those obstacles with this handy guide to the top 10 cities for wine lovers.
By Kristine Hansen
San Francisco, California
With hundreds of vineyards just over the Golden Gate Bridge in Napa Valley and Sonoma, chefs have lots of local wine to work with when dreaming up wine-food pairings. Find impressive wine lists at A16 in the Marina District and at Quince in the Financial District. In lieu of venturing over the bridge, visit Winery Collective in Fisherman’s Wharf, which has a tasting room featuring wine from boutique wineries; or check out Wattle Creek Winery’s San Francisco tasting room in Ghirardelli Square (the vineyards are in Sonoma). Take some sips at Dogpatch WineWorks, which pours artisanal wines made by a winemakers’ collective in the Dogpatch neighborhood.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit the Fodor's San Francisco Guide
New York, New York
New York City wine professionals offer a wide variety of tasting experiences, including hip-and-gritty wine bars in the boroughs (try Winegasm in Astoria, Queens) or epic restaurants in Manhattan like Daniel, on the Upper East Side; or Per Se, in Columbus Circle. Find choices from Finger Lakes and Long Island wineries at plenty of spots. For urban-made wines visit tasting rooms at City Winery, Red Hook Winery and Brooklyn Winery.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit the Fodor's New York City Guide
Although Port dates back centuries, tasting rooms didn’t debut in Porto (Portugal’s second-largest city) until the 1960s. Visit Taylor’s Port for a Port flight and a tour, or Symington Family Estates’ brand-new museum, tasting room, and Vinum Restaurant. Or check out the historic Graham’s Port Lodge, which was built in 1890. Wines of Portugal’s tasting room, located in Porto’s Ribiera District, offers selections from many Portuguese wineries. Try even more wines at the scenic Wine Quay Bar, perched above the Douro River.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit the Fodor's Porto Guide
Hong Kong, China
Within the last five years, Hong Kong has evolved into an epicenter for wine lists rich with Bordeaux selections. To taste wines from boutique California wineries, paired with eats like Cowgirl Creamery cheeses or Santa Maria-style BBQ, visit California Vintage. For a taste of the next wave of wine, drop by the 8th Estate Winery, Hong Kong’s only winery, which offers an in-depth tour right on down to the barrel room.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit the Fodor's Hong Kong Guide
Santiago’s restaurant scene is sizzling—and wine is there to accompany the eats. Nowhere is this trend truer than along Restaurant Row in the Vitacura neighborhood. At Boragó, a nine-course dinner prepared by young chef Rodolfo Guzmán, includes items like Patagonian berries or Easter Island seafood, paired with Chilean wines. To walk through vineyards and taste at a working winery, head to Vina Aquitania, 35 minutes from Santiago.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit the Fodor's Fodor's Santiago Guide
Considered France’s wine education center because of several impressive wine schools, Beaune also boasts the Hospices de Beaune, a wine auction held each November. The charming town also has dozens of wine retailers and restaurants where wine is front and center, like at Les Vins de Maurice where glasses of locally made wine are paired with small plates.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit the Fodor's Beaune Guide
Vineyards and wineries are easily accessed from Vienna, as many are less than 45 minutes away. At the new Weritas, featuring a modern glass-walled tasting-room, visitors can sample 30-some wines sourced from the Wagram region, from Grüner Veltliner to Zweigelt. Stay at Losium Wine & Spa Resort, just outside of Vienna, for pampering among the vines. Back in Vienna, Wein & Co.'s Inner Stadt location is part wine store, part Mediterranean restaurant that has a budget-friendly corking fee.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit the Fodor's Vienna Guide
The country’s second-most-populated city is home to quite a few wine bars devoted to pouring wines from 60-some wine regions down under. Check out the Meatball & Wine Bar (think fish and meatballs paired with Aussie Shiraz or rosé, for example) or kickback at the Melbourne Supper Club (refined bar foods matched with wines). To venture outside of Melbourne, but still stay local, book a day tour with Winebus to nearby Yarra Valley.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit the Fodor's Melbourne Guide
Cape Town, South Africa
For an exquisite look at South Africa’s wine scene, One & Only Cape Town definitely delivers with 5,000 bottles of wine stored at The Wine Loft. At Nobu by Nobu Matsuhisa, the celebrity chef’s cuisine amazes palates with Japanese flavors piled on to South African seafoods (plus 20 wines by the glass). Visit the scenic Saxenburg Wines' tasting room for great wines and a chance to see exotic wildlife.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit the Fodor's Cape Town Guide
The Northern Italian city of Turin, in Piedmont, attracted a new crowd of travelers for the 2006 Winter Olympics, yet its wine tourism dates back much earlier. Throughout the region, bottles of Barolo, Dolcetto, Nebbiolo and Barbera are excellent values that, unfortunately, don’t often make it to the States. Pair those wines with locally grown foods like truffles and hazelnuts for an even richer experience. Because the area is quite new to tourism, reservations at wineries are recommended. If you’re short on time, visit an enoteche, such as Barolo di Barolo, where you can sample a wide variety of Piedmont wines. Also check out the original Eataly for scrumptious samples of both local foods and wines, not to mention aisles of souvenirs.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit the Fodor's Turin Guide