Wine tours in France, Italy, Spain and Portugal

wine road

Truly a common language that unites these four countries, wine is an important part of Latin identity.

The ancient Greek and Roman civilisations are known for the superb archaeological monuments they left behind in stone. However, from France to Portugal, the grapevine is another sort of heritage that has continued to live and thrive for thousands of years.

Wines of France: prestige and diversity

French wines reflect the rich culture of a country situated where the north and south of the continent meet. Alsace is renowned for its white wines such as Gewürztraminer, Riesling and Pinot-gris, which are produced in its splendid, rolling countryside. If you are visiting Strasbourg, book a table at Terroir & Co. This gastronomic restaurant near Petite France and the cathedral offers a menu with a decidedly local character, praised by Gault&Millau. Its cellar contains dozens of fine Alsatian wines.

Better renowned for its red wines, the Bordeaux region is home to some of the world's most prestigious estates. Just a stone's throw from Bordeaux city centre and the Mériadeck business district, Les Décantés restaurant exudes quality and conviviality. Its excellent home-made dishes are made to be shared – accompanied, of course, by a selection of grands crus classés.

Does summer inevitably bring to mind a chilled bottle of rosé as you dip your toes in the water? La Table du Roi would agree. This bistronomic restaurant with a swimming pool and terrace is only a few steps from the Cours Mirabeau, in Aix-en-Provence. Rosé wines represent 80% of the regional production and are protected by several appellations.

Italy: vineyards from north to south

In the world's top wine-producing country, each region has its own vineyards. The wines of Tuscany and Veneto are among the most renowned of the peninsula, with dozens of protected designations (DOP) and controlled designations (DOC). Fancy a toast of Chianti after a day visiting Rome? Relax over a meal on the terrace at Settimo, with panoramic views of the Villa Borghese gardens and the most beautiful monuments of the Eternal City. And to celebrate a Venetian interlude, nothing beats a good Prosecco in the luxuriant greenery of the Giardino d'Inverno.

Spain: the world's largest vineyard

Stretching over around one million hectares, the Spanish vineyard is the largest on earth. As in France and Italy, different appellations codify production, indicating origin and quality. Only two vineyards have the Qualified Designation of Origin (DOC): Rioja and Priorat.

In the midst of the province of the same name in the north of the country, the Rioja vineyards are characterised by their quintessentially Spanish grape varieties and low yields. They produce concentrated wines that are unique in the world and have been highly regarded for their finesse and balance since the 19th century. The Priorat is located in the centre of the beautiful mountainous region of Tarragona. For those who understand how to cultivate these rather barren lands, quality prevails over quantity, yielding very distinctive red wines.

Finally, if you love bubbles you will feel at home in Spain, where excellent cavas, prepared according to the traditional Champagne method, can rival the best Champagnes.

Take advantage of your stay in Spain to (re)discover the joy of a good wine with a delicious meal. Sample pescaíto – fried fish emblematic of southern Spain – amid the contemporary décor of the Gourmet Bar Sevilla. On a weekend in Barcelona, stop for tapas or a signature burger in the relaxed atmosphere of Charlie's Corner on Plaça Gloriès.

Portugal: cultivating its singularities

Despite having a much smaller surface area than its European neighbours, Portugal is noted for its great diversity in climate and soil, from Alentejo in the south to Minho on the border with Galicia. However, it is the grape varieties that constitute the richness of Portugal's wines – there are hundreds of local varieties, as opposed to only ten or so that provide the bulk of production in other major wine-producing countries.

Many of Portugal’s finest wines are cultivated in the region around the spectacular capital, Lisbon, the ideal starting point for a tasting tour. Visit vineyards set amongst rolling, forested hills on the Atlantic coast, or picturesque olive groves along the broad Tejo River. Sample distinctive varieties such as white Arinto or Malvasia, or reds including Ramisco and Tinta Roriz, as well as tantalising fortified wines. On your return, find a table in the contemporary, rustic-chic setting of A Bicicleta for a tempting selection of petiscos (the Portuguese version of tapas) or inventive takes on traditional dishes such as bacalhau.

(*) Average meal price calculated on the basis of starter and main course or main course and dessert, excluding drinks, menu and promotional offers. The average price is an estimate only, calculated according to the prices provided by the restaurant. Depending on the country, the average price may or may not include all taxes.