The best time to sample a new tipple has to be when there’s no work in the morning, so when you’re on holiday, you simply have to try the local specialities. Whether you develop a penchant for a particular type of specialist sangria, grapple with Italian grappa, or spend your time getting acquainted with the Greek ouzo, every region has its own idea of the perfect alcoholic drink.
Take it one step further and visit a few places especially renowned for their delicious drinks, and remember to take some paracetomol…
If you want to spend quality time sampling one of the great British traditions, there’s no better place than Scotland to find out all there is to know about Scottish whisky. You could visit one of the most famous distilleries in Scotland, the lovely whitewashed Glengoyne distillery at the bottom of Dumgoyne Hill, the famous volcanic plug in Glasgow that offers everything from basic whisky tasting tours to indulgent whisky and chocolate tasting extravaganzas. If you consider yourself a real connoisseur, you could even take a whisky master class, have a go at blending your own and get to take it home with you. There are plenty of tours to choose from in all around Scotland, just take your pick and choose your experience.
You could make your whisky tour more of an experience by visiting during one of the country’s whisky festivals; the five-day Spirit of Speyside Festival, in Speyside, involves sampling the local whisky, dancing at a local ceilidh and tasting Scottish delicacies, all among fellow whisky enthusiasts. There’s also the Feis lle – Islay Malt and Music festival or the relatively recent Inverness Whisky Festival to experience.
Recreated around the world with beer and German cuisine, Oktoberfest is a true test of anyone’s beer-loving mettle. The Germans certainly know how to party, as the beer festival, which happens every year in Berlin at the end of September and beginning of October, spans an impressive 16 days. It involves copious amounts of beer, which all has to be brewed to a certain strength and within the Munich city limits, and a range of delicious German delicacies such as roast pork, sauerkraut and fish on a stick. If you think you’re up to it after all that beer and food, you can also have a go on one of the many fairground rides!
The festival started in the 19th century to celebrate the marriage of Crown Prince Ludwig and Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen and the Germans enjoyed it so much that they’ve carried on ever since.
If wine is more your tipple of choice, there are several San Francisco tours that you can go on that will allow you to explore the world of wine. For instance, a tour of the San Francisco wine region is the perfect way to appreciate the laid back ambience of the region along with some delicious examples of sun-kissed Zinfandel and more. Chill out and make the most of your time in California, investigate the musical legacies of greats such as Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, and The Grateful Dead, and take in a winery or two in the famous Napa Valley to sample some of the best wines that America can offer, along with delicious cheeses and indulgent chocolates.
There are more wineries in the Napa Valley than you’ll find in other single part of North America, and 95% of them are family-owned and operated, which makes them friendly and fun to visit. You’ll never turn your nose up at Californian wines again…
Go at little further afield in your pursuit of quality alcoholic beverages and you can find out all there is to know about sake, the mysterious speciality drink of Japan. It’s become available around the world in recent years, although it’s not widely appreciated yet – which is a shame. If you haven’t come across it yet, sake is made of fermented rice, koji (a rice malt, or yeast made from rice) and water, although if you’re in Japan sometimes you’ll hear the word ‘sake’ used to describe any kind of alcoholic drink.
Close to Kyoto is Fushimi-Momoyama, a place where you’ll see the ground-water that’s used for brewing sake, as well as get a chance to sample a free taste of the delicious drink. From there, visit Gekkeikan Okura Sake Museum, and you can find out all about the history of sake brewing in Kyoto as you sneak another cheeky sample of the local brew. Kyoto is also a wonderful place for amazing architecture, beautiful shrines and temples, gardens, and a huge variety of art and craft shops to explore.
Picturesque surroundings, wonderful history and delicious beverages – what more do you need from your trip abroad?
Written by Kat Kraetzer, an avid traveller and lover of Port wine.