With global wine consumption estimated at 236 million hectolitres in 2021,1 it’s a tipple that’s enjoyed globally – whether savoured as part of a meal, drunk as a dessert, or simply served on its own.
And, with so many countries producing their own unique types of wine, touring vineyards and tasting wine have become such popular activities, that many people choose to do this whilst on holiday.
If you want to combine your love of travelling and wine, then you’ve come to the right place! Here, we’ve uncovered the top countries and regions in the world for wine, looking at various factors such as vineyard surface area, the number of grape varieties, and the amount of wine produced.
So, read on for some serious inspiration – and once you’ve booked your flights, make sure you sort your travel insurance, too.
Important things to keep in mind with your travel insurance
If you’re heading on a travel adventure that’s centred around wine tasting or you simply plan on having a drink or two while on your trip, it’s important to keep in mind how alcohol consumption could affect your ability to make a claim.
Your policy may not cover you for lost or damaged items if they go awry while you’re intoxicated. It could be the same story if you cause an accident or injure yourself after too many wines. You can check the Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) to confirm the particular inclusions of your policy, which will also list the exclusions, restrictions and limits.
If you’re more interested in bringing some wine home with you to enjoy with your family and friends, a travel insurance policy can also cover any bottles that are tucked in with the rest of your luggage.
It perhaps comes as no surprise that France takes top position. Known for having over 380 grape varieties and the second-highest wine consumption in the world, their most popular wine is Chateau Mouton Rothschild, which is a powerful and intense dry red wine. It costs US$699.66 (AU$1016.60) per bottle, and ranks number one in the world.
If you want to tour some vineyards while you’re in France, then you’ve got an abundance to choose from. The region of Burgundy places top, followed by Bordeaux and Jura; or if you’re in the mood for some bubbles, head to Champagne.
The home of prosecco, Italy places a very respectable second, with its wines characterised by their fruitier, lighter taste, with notes of raspberry and strawberry. It produces the most wine anywhere in the world, as well as having the third-highest consumption, and the fourth-most types of grape varieties, at an impressive 453.
If you choose to visit Italy, then make sure you try the Tenuta San Guido Sassicaia Bolgheri, which came joint third in critic scores, and ranks fifth in the world. A bottle costs US$331.11 (AU$481.10).
Piedmont, in the north of Italy, bordering Switzerland and France, is the highest rated region for wine tasting, but Veneto and Tuscany are great alternative options too.
3. United States
The USA consumes the most amount of wine in the world, produces the fourth-largest amount, and has the sixth-largest vineyard surface area, at 406,760ha.
Soft in texture, with aromas of caramel and sandalwood, the Opus One, made in Oakville, California, is the most popular wine produced in the United States, and is ranked 12th in the world, with a bottle setting you back by US$415.35 (AU$603.50).
However, whilst northern California might be the best-known region for its vineyards in the US, Washington ranks higher, in position 39 – with France and Italy’s regions dominating the first 38 positions. Regions in Rhode Island, Oregon, Virginia, and Florida also creep into the top 50 list, meaning no matter whether you’re on the east or west coast, you’ve got some great wine tasting options.
In fourth place is Spain, which boasts the largest surface area in the world for vineyards, at an impressive 966,442ha – more than double the USA’s. Typical Spanish wine tends to be full-bodied, with ripe and juicy flavours; and their most popular wine, Vega Sicilia Unico Gran Reserva is no exception.
Described as being acidic and smoky with textured tannin, if you’re considering a wine tasting session in Spain, make sure you give it a go. Costing US$472.68 (AU$686.80) per bottle, it has a critic’s score of 95, and it’s made in the Castilla y Leon region. However, Catalonia and Andalucía rank higher for their wine tasting, so rest assured there are plenty of vineyards to visit.
Rounding off the top five, is Australia! With 228 types of grape varieties, and a vineyard surface area of 146,244ha, we’re well known for our variety of Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Shiraz.
Our most popular wine, Penfolds Grange Bin 95, which has a distinctly savoury taste, is made in the south and costs US$601.38 (AU$873.80) per bottle. If we look at the top three regions for winemaking, Western Australia tops the list, in 125th place, followed by New South Wales, and South Australia.
Italy and France dominate the list of top wine regions
When it comes to breaking down the list into regions specifically, France and Italy continue to dominate, with the first 38 regions listed in these two countries. The USA is the third country to make the list, with Washington state placing 39th. Spain follows not far after, with Catalonia the 41st top wine-making region, and Yunnan in China, placing 92nd.
However, if we look back at a country-level view, we can see that other well-known wine producers have placed highly, such as Argentina in 9th place, Chile in 11th, South Africa in 14th, and Georgia in 15th.
What might surprise you, is that China has placed sixth, as, despite having no types of grape varieties, it has a huge vineyard surface area, of 780,665ha – which is third, behind only Spain and France.
Canada places a respectable 13th, due to its creation of ice wine, which sees wine being produced by grapes that have been frozen whilst on the vine – something which is also done in Germany and Austria.
Canada’s most popular wine is Peller Estates Signature Series Vidal Blanc Ice Wine, which is made in the Niagara region, and tastes sweet yet zesty. Costing US$80.73 (AU$117.30) per bottle, it has a critic’s score of 89, and is a great option for a dessert wine.
If we look at specific factors, such as the number of grape varieties, Turkey comes top with 709, with Georgia in second place at 520, and Canada in third, at 474. Whilst France’s top wine is the most expensive, Australia’s isn’t far behind, followed by Spain and the USA.
Adrian Taylor, General Manager of General Insurance at comparethemarket.com.au, states: “Touring vineyards and enjoying a glass of wine is just one great way to explore a country’s culture, and you can often book day trips with other tourists to do so.
“Alongside the dominant countries such as France, Italy, and the USA, this index has shown that there are several emerging countries that have burst onto the wine-making scene, so no matter where you decide to vacation in the world, you’ll have the option to enjoy a bottle of wine – whether your personal favourite is red, white, or rosé.
“Whatever your plans are when it comes to wine-tasting holidays, make sure you secure yourself a travel insurance policy and check the Product Disclosure Statement to ensure you understand the limits and exclusions, especially surrounding alcohol consumption while travelling.”
So, all that’s left to do is decide which region you want to visit and sort out your flight and hotels! And if you decide to enjoy a staycation and visit some of the amazing vineyards our country has to offer, then make sure you take out domestic travel insurance, to cover you for all eventualities.