Looking for the best wine countries in the world? There’s no need to rush out to your local sommelier because this article has got you covered, from old world staples to new world gems!
So many countries around the world have their own wine. They vary in acidity, sweetness, flavor, and even alcohol percentage.
If you are traveling around the world, then these are the places to put on your wine bucket list plus some wines you’ll want to taste from countries you shouldn’t miss.
There are also a few pairing suggestions to help get you started.
While each country’s wine is distinct and different, here are the best wine countries in the world!
The Best Wine Countries in the World
Here we go!
France is probably the country that is most famous for creating exceptional wine. Produced across the country, French winemaking can date its history back to Roman times.
The most commonly produced wine in France is the merlot. This is a type of red wine that tends toward being fruity and is slightly sweet with smooth tannins and is full of flavor.
Some of the finest merlot is from France, and if you are ever in the country, then you couldn’t go wrong with a glass or two.
Chardonnay is the other popular French wine. This is a white wine that originated in the Burgundy region of France.
This delicate white wine is best enjoyed with seafood such as crab, prawns, and fish. The flavors complement each other perfectly and that makes the wine so much more enjoyable.
If you haven’t tried French chardonnay while in France, add it to your list of things to do.
France is blessed with many famous wine regions and sub-regions, including Bordeaux, the aforementioned Burgundy, Champagne, the Rhone Valley, Alsace, and the Loire.
Pro Tip: Interested in visiting France for its wine?
This UNESCO World Heritage Site is one of my personal favorite wine regions in the world.
Australia might not be the first country that comes to mind when thinking about wine. However, Australia does produce some of the most fantastic wines in the world.
The country is known for the shiraz and its distinctive flavor.
It doesn’t have the same history as other wines on this list having first started production in 1832, but Australian wine is not to be missed.
If you are visiting Australia, then you should try some of the local wine with the local food, and you will be surprised by how well the two go together.
Spain is a beautiful and friendly country and the wine produced is equally exquisite.
Rioja wine is one of the most common red wines found in Spain. It is known for its high tannins and as such goes excellently with rich, red meat. It can also be enjoyed by itself after dinner.
Like many Spanish wines, it goes well with a lot of Spanish food like Iberico ham and chorizo, so you should not miss out on this combination.
Spain is famous, not only for its wine production but also for its grape varieties. Rioja red wine can come from four different varieties of grapes which are Tempranillo, Garnacha tinta, Mazuelo, and Graciano.
Other famous Spanish grape varietals include Cabernet Franc, Bobal, and Juan Garcia.
Albariño is a white wine from Northwest Spain. It is probably best known for its botanical aroma with hints of apricot and peach.
Like most white wines it is best matched with white meat and fish. Albariño also goes particularly well with tuna dishes and thanks to its slight sweetness it compliments it brilliantly.
It also goes great with other local dishes, so be sure to ask your waiter for their recommendation when ordering in a restaurant.
Although most people probably don’t realize, wine can sometimes be produced using animal products during the clarification process.
If you happen to be visiting Barcelona, you can even take a food tour with a local guide to sample a variety of vegan wines if you happen to have dietary restrictions.
Love sparkling wines? Make sure to try Spanish cava, one of the best in the world!
Pro Tip: If you decide to bring home some Spanish wine as a souvenir from Spain, don’t try to carry it onto a plane!
Even wine purchased at the airport can sometimes get confiscated if you have to go through security at another airport.
Always travel with wine in your checked luggage when flying it home.
Want to see Spain beyond its wine? Check out some of Spain’s beaches, which are rated as some of the top beaches in the Mediterranean.
Whenever you visit a country, region, or town, it is almost in the constitution that you try out their food.
Italian cuisine is known all over the world for its taste and aroma and Italian wine plays a huge role as well.
Wine is produced in every region of Italy using over 500 different varieties of grapes. Famous Italian grape varietals include Sangiovese, Barbera, and Nebbiolo.
Some common Italian red wines you may or may not recognize are Barolo, Chianti, Barbaresco, and Amarone.
Its most famous white wine is probably Pinot Grigio or its sparkling wines like Prosecco and Moscato.
Pro Tip: Don’t just visit Tuscany and Piedmont when you want to enjoy some Italian wine tourism. There are great wine producers all over the country, from Sicily in the Mediterranean to Lombardy in the north of Italy.
I love the wine of Lombardy, like the sparkling Franciacorta spumante.
Argentina is one of the world’s top wine-producing countries, and it has gained an international reputation as one of South America’s best wine regions.
Its most common wines include Syrah, Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Bonarda, but its most renowned wine around the world is easily its Malbec.
Malbec is a smooth wine with a fruity flavor and pairs well with red meat.
Wine lovers who visit Argentina must visit the small and calm city of Mendoza, Argentina in search of the promising vineyards it’s well known for.
Situated in the foothills of the Andes, Mendoza is a delight!
All the wineries are located off one main street, so you can bike about 4 km to the farthest one to begin and then bike your way back.
Once out of the main town, the vineyards are located off a two-lane street heavily sheltered by rows of trees on either side creating the perfect ambiance for a casual wine tasting adventure.
Quality Chilean wine is currently booming with Chile as the fifth largest wine exporter worldwide, though its history goes all the way back to the 16th century.
Some of the notable wine regions in the country include Colchagua Valley, Maipo Valley, Maule Valley, and Casablanca Valley.
Chile’s Cabernet Sauvignon just might stand out the most, but the country is also well known for its Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, and Carménère (its signature grape) among others.
With Cabernet Sauvignon and Carménère, enjoy some grilled meats. Raw shellfish and ceviche pair well with Sauvignon Blanc. Sip Chardonnay with your crab and fish dishes.
Chile is famous for its fine wines that can still be produced in the Andes’s cool climate, giving them a lovely rugged quality.
New Zealand’s wine history doesn’t go back far (only to the 19th century), but that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t produce excellent wines from its ten or so main wine regions.
The country’s temperate maritime climate is part of that success.
New Zealand’s claim to fame in the world of wine is its Sauvignon Blanc. It’s also known for its Pinot Noir, Riesling, and Syrah.
For some pairing ideas, try the Pinot Noir with lamb, pork, or simply a good cheese platter. Syrah goes well with steak and Riesling can be enjoyed with seafood like oysters or scallops.
Pro Tip: Wine makes an excellent New Zealand souvenir, but make sure you pack it in your checked luggage since you won’t be able to carry it onto the plane.
The South African wine industry goes back to the Dutch in Cape Town in the 17th century.
Stellenbosch and Paarl are the country’s two main wine regions, with a terroir that’s perfect for producing high-quality wines. It’s no wonder that South African wines have really taken off in the last decade.
Pinotage is a red wine grape unique to South Africa. Some of the most popular wines from South Africa are Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc, Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot.
Combine the Sauvignon Blanc with salmon tartar or Chenin Blanc with seared scallops. Satisfy your sweet tooth with dark chocolate and Shiraz or Cabernet Sauvignon.
While growing up, I often looked down on American wines, after traveling to over fifty countries I have to admit that I really love them.
The USA has a wide variety of wine regions in the country, and I’ve gone wine tasting everywhere from Virginia to California to everywhere in between.
The most famous wine regions in the US are California (think Sonoma and Napa Valley, not San Francisco or Los Angelos), Oregon (regions like the Willamette Valley), and Washington state, though places like New York’s Finger Lakes and Texas’s Hill Country are increasingly popular.
Pro Tip: You can enjoy sipping your way through Update New York’s beautiful small towns, pair a trip to Monticello with a few Virginian wine tastings, enjoy a Texas Zinfandel while touring Texas castles.
One of my personal favorites, Portugal is blessed to be the home of one of the most beautiful wine regions in the world. With rolling hills and stunning drops, one of my favorite wine tourism memories is my trip to the Douro Valley.
Most Quintas in the Douro Valley have tasting rooms that are open to the public, and some allow you to go on wine tours where you can learn about how the winemakers create their liquid gold
Famous for producing port, you can enjoy it in the Douro (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), or you can visit Porto and go on a port wine tasting. A city named after a wine? Yes, please!
If you aren’t a fan of very sweet wines and prefer something lighter and fresher, another Portuguese wine that’s famous worldwide is Vinho Verde.
My personal introduction to German wine was the Riesling, which is one the country is the most famous for.
However, the country also produces wonderful Eiswein (ice wines like those produced near Montreal, Canada), Spätburgunder (the country’s most popular red wine), and Silvaner (nicknamed the Dracula Wine since it is ruined if it gets exposed to sunlight).
Pro Tip: Considering a trip to Germany? My favorite time to visit Germany is in autumn! The leaves are just stunning. You can use my Germany packing list for tips on what to bring with you. You’ll find more Germany travel tips here.
China is a top-ten wine producer and a top-ten wine importer. The Chinese may not be as well known by international wine enthusiasts for their wines as some of the other countries on this list, but they drink more than their fair share.
Buckle up for quite a few countries on this list from the Balkans. Home to some of the oldest wine regions in the world, you really can’t come here without trying at least a sip!
While Croatia is the more famous of the two, I actually prefer Serbian wines. Make sure to try the bermet here, which makes a great Serbian souvenir. It was a preferred beverage by European royalty, and it was even served on the Titanic!
You might have heard the term “kosher wine,” but did you know that Israel’s wine offerings go far beyond the famous Manishevitz. One of the oldest wine regions in the world, it’s only lately that the international wine community has started taking notice.
Yes, I am partial since I lived in Sofia as a digital nomad for four years, but this host country of the Balkan Wine Festival is no slouch when it comes to its own wine production.
TLDR; never pass on a Bulgarian rosé. Slip one into your luggage as a souvenir from Bulgaria. You’ll thank me later.
The country of Georgia claims to be the oldest wine-producing country in the world. While I don’t personally love Georgian wines as some of the other’s on this list, many wine experts disagree.
So pack your bags and find out for yourself whether Georgia tops your personal list of the best wine in the world.
Less famous as a wine producer than Argentina and Chile, Brazil is coming into its own as an internationally sought-after wine destination.
Wine production in Brazil is concentrated in the south.
Two regions to look out for are the Rio Grande do Sul and Serra Gaúcha.
While I always suggest bringing home some Brazilian coffee, locally made wine makes a great souvenir from Brazil as well.
While only four percent of Japanese wine is produced domestically from domestically-grown grapes, don’t overlook Japan as an up-and-coming wine country. Wine production here dates back hundreds of years.
One region to look for is the Yamanashi Prefecture, which is where much of Japan’s local wine is produced.
Want an epic Japan itinerary? Start in Tokyo and make your way south through Yamanashi Prefecture and keep going until you get to the Kii Mountains.
Another Balkan gem in a region that truly produces some of the best wines in the world, Romania is more famous internationally for Transylvania and Dracula.
However, Romanian wines are benefiting from a major national investment in promoting and producing them for an international market.
The Carpathian Mountains are considered, by some, to be the perfect place for wine production. They’re also beautiful to look at, so it makes a great region to come to see for yourself!
While much of Russia is unsuitable for viticulture, like Georgia (above), the Caucasus is a fertile and historic wine-growing region. Most of Russia’s domestic wine production is done in the Russian Caucasus.
Promoted as a healthy alternative to spirits like vodka which has a higher alcohol content than wine, Russian wine hasn’t taken off as much as the country would like.
However, beyond even the Caucasus, other nearby Russian neighbors in the area, like Moldova and Ukraine, are also known for their great wines and cognacs, so there’s no reason that Russia, with its superior resources, shouldn’t rocket to the top of the region in the coming years.
Another Balkan wine powerhouse, Slovenia is another great place to visit if you’re looking to do wine tours and wine tastings in between castles and sea coasts. My own Slovenian wine tour is one of the most memorable days of my time there.
The most common grape used here is the Rebula. The country, while small, has three distinct wine regions: Podravje in the east, Primorska in the west, and Posavje in the south.
Sitting on the same latitude as Spain (and comparable to the geography of New Zealand), South Korea might be the wine country you should have seen coming, but didn’t. Well, at least I didn’t.
Wine production began here to serve South Korea’s Catholic population, but it has since become a secular commercial venture.
On my first visit to Montreal, I was surprised to see signs for vineyards. It felt so far north – how could this be wine country? Of course, I didn’t understand back then that there are tough grapes that are more suitable for harsh, cool climates.
Well, in fact, whether you’re headed to Toronto, Montreal, or Vancouver, there’s probably a Canadian vineyard nearby available for a tasting!
One of the most famous wine regions in Canada is the Niagara Peninsula. You can combine a visit here with planning a trip to Niagara Falls. Make sure to bring back some Niagara wine as a Niagara Falls souvenir!
As someone who loves the Rio de la Plata, I am partial to wines produced in southern Uruguay where the Rio de la Plata produces an effect on the wines.
This makes Uruguay wine different than those produced across the water in Argentina, where the grapes need to be more rugged.
If you visit Montevideo, you’ll be happy to know that some of the oldest vineyards in the country are located right here in the capital.
Of course, you can always sip a local Uruguay wine while you dine (read: gorge yourself) at the Mercado del Puerto.
While my own Hungarian wine tastings happened in Budapest, the country’s most famous wine regions are Tokaj (Tkaji), Eger (Egri), Mátra, Nagy Somlo, and Lake Balaton. The latter is a former Communist vacation resort area (like the Red Riviera was in Bulgaria).
Considered the “best-kept secret of the old wine world,” famous wines from Hungary include Tokaji (from its namesake Tokaj region) as well as Kekfrankos and Juhfark.
Another ancient wine region, Greece is not as well known for its wine worldwide as other countries in the region. And I’ve had more than my fair share of bad Greek wines, so it really helps to know what you’re ordering before you commit to a bottle.
I’m partial to nicer Cretan wines, Santorini’s Assyrtiko, and Moschofilero from Tripoli.
Which country would you like to visit for their wine?
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