Sipping the good life: Wine tasting your way around the globe

Nov 17, 2011, 8:22 a.m.

There are worse ways to spend your time than sipping your way around the globe, swinging from one fine wine to another in a glorious escapade of intoxicated discovery. But a lot of people get hung up on wine tasting because they think they're simply not "experienced" enough to pass muster. That's where we come in, by giving you five of the most renowned wine tasting destinations in the world, and letting you plot your travels around them. This way, even if you're an inexperienced wine appreciator you'll come off like a world-class connoisseur. Just remember the five S's of proper wine tasting: swirl, sniff, sip, swish and swallow.

Napa Valley, California -- If it surprises you to know that some of the world's best wine comes from right here in the United States, then you've obviously never spent much time in the Napa Valley region of California. This is where you'll find the Kuleto Estate, Robert Mondavi, Sterling Vineyards, Joseph Phelps, Pine Ridge, Domaine Chandon, Beaulieu and Hess Collection vineyards, among many others.

Paris, France -- Leave it to the French to reel in even more visitors with their delectable selections, but thank them in the process: You've now got one more reason to get yourself within a day's drive of Paris. Although it's said to be impossible to get a bad glass of wine anywhere in Paris, the areas of Bordeaux and Limoux, which are six and eight hours away from Paris respectively, are where you really want to set your sights if you're looking for the best of the best. Best recommendation: The Chateau Mouton Rothschild winery in Bordeaux.

Penedes, Spain -- Things are really looking up as you make your way through Europe, tasting as you go. Your next stop brings you within an hour's drive of Barcelona, the capital city of Catalonia and the country's second biggest city. This is where your taste buds will lead you to the Bodegas Torres winery, world famous for its wines and brandies. If you're interested in mixing it up with a bit of both, you wouldn't be breaking any rules.

Tuscany, Italy -- You knew there had to be a mention of Italy; no self-respecting wine connoisseur would ever make a worldwide trek for the best vino on the planet without making an obligatory stopover in Italy. If you've got your druthers (and you do, since you'll be the one making the reservations) ensure that you've tasted the goods available at the Villa Vignamaggio, a place steeped in history and mystique. It's said that the inspiration for the Mona Lisa may have lived here at some point in history. If traipsing through the same vineyards as Da Vinci's muse doesn't sound like a story to take home to tell your friends and family, then you're probably not drinking enough.

Yenda, Australia -- You've probably always wanted to have an excuse to vacation to Australia but horror stories about the vast outback may have scared you senseless. Of course, that's sort of like staying away from California because you're terrified of earthquakes, but we won't judge. The truth is, there's much more to the land down under than dingos and kangaroos, and one of those things is great wine. The Casella Winery in Yenda is about 350 miles west of Sydney and is responsible for producing the world famous Yellow Tail wine.

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