When it comes to wine, experience and context are everything. Travel can serve up the ultimate dose of both. The next time you plan a trip, consider these four unique opportunities to learn by doing and drinking.
Wine in a Cave
(Ardèche, Rhône Valley, France)
Raphaël Pommier, winemaker of Notre Dame de Cousignac, and Nicolas Bransolle, veteran spelunking guide, take terroir exploration to new depths in the Rhône Valley. Their joint venture, SpéléOenologie, derived from the terms “spelunking” and “oenology,” brings visitors deep into the caves of Saint Marcel d’Ardèche, where Pommier’s wines are aged in oak casks. English-speaking wine and cave specialists guide this two- to three-hour adventure, which culminates in a subterranean wine tasting. $68 and up.
A Tasting of Volcanic Proportions
(Mount Etna, Sicily, Italy)
The Etna Wine School combines history, geography and, of course, oenology in its half-day wine class on Mount Etna. On an expert-led winery tour, you’ll discover the works of a palmento (traditional Sicilian structure for making wine), explore modern techniques used in high-altitude volcanic winemaking and taste indigenous grape varieties Carricante and Nerello Mascalese, typical Etna Bianco (white) and Etna Rosso (red) grapes, respectively. $120.
Known for its Bordeaux-style red blend, Insignia, Joseph Phelps Vineyards invites guests to craft their own cuvée. A wine educator leads a tasting of the varietal wines used to make Insignia—Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot, Merlot, Malbec and Cabernet Franc—to analyze the flavor profiles of the individual components. Then, participants blend their own, taste them against the group’s and compare their creations to the real thing. $100.
A Taste of Italy
(Multiple cities, U.S.)
Attenzione: If you can’t make it to Italy’s wine regions but want to dig deeper into Italian food and beverages, check out Eataly’s Classes & Events on your next trip to New York City, Chicago, Boston or Los Angeles. An enticing array of one-to two-hour classes varies monthly and seasonally. Past offerings have included Wine & Truffles of Piemonte, Grana Padano & Vespa Bianco Aperitivo with Joe Bastianich and the In Vino Veritas dinner series. $35–$165.