Wines of the World

July 03, 2019

Wines of the World

Renowned scientist Louis Pasteur once said: “a bottle of wine contains more philosophy than all the books in the world.” Certainly, a bottle of wine contains more than simple fermented fruit juice. It’s a heritage; a tangible fragment of the culture and history of the place whence it came; each drop a testament to the rich traditions and beautiful locales of its area of origin. And in Louis Pasteur’s case, the secret to saving the literal lives of millions by devising a sterilization process to ensure a product, like milk or wine, is safe for consumption.

Whatever the case–whether you discover a revolutionary method of disease prevention in a bad batch of French liquor, or wax lyrical over the poetic exquisiteness of a glass of Chardonnay–there’s no denying that drinking wine can literally be a life-changing experience. And a good part of what makes this magic happen is the process of making said wine. The traditions of winemaking are rich and varied, unique to each country and region that produce them. From the timeless practices to the French to the up-and-coming methods of the Chinese, here’s everything you need to know about where the wines of the world actually come from.

Once upon a time…

History of WinesIn an ancient civilization of China, around the years 7000 to 6600 BCE, the Jiahu tribe in the Yellow River Valley (now Henan province) produced the oldest known wines from fermented rice, honey, or fruits, predominantly grapes. Within a few millennia, the middle eastern regions that is now modern Georgia were also producing their own grape wines and cultivating their unique viniculture. Further down the road in the year 4000 BCE in the same region of Georgia, Armenia, and Iran, this middle eastern civilization has mastered its winemaking practices and has established dedicated winemaking facilities to produce its liquor, which, in the case of Aremnia’s Areni-1, still holds strong evidence of said ancient wine production, over 6000 years later, today. Likewise holding on to their glorious past is Georgia who, to this day, still retains its age-old winemaking practices of using massive earthenware vessels called Kveveri, and burying those underground for the fermentation process.

In 1600 to 1100 BCE, the continent of Africa has made a trade of its wine industry, with regions like the New Kingdom of Egypt, Assyria, and Mesopotamia showing signs of having transported wines in amphora or goatskins. And as people immigrate and emigrate through the course of history, so did their wines and winemaking practices. The lands of the west presumably welcomed the wine culture thanks largely in part to adventurous Phoenicians who left their little nook in the Mediterranean city-states to settle in what is now the region of Syria, Lebanon, Israel, and Palestine. A sophisticated method of preservation allowed these enterprising voyagers to transport their goods across long distances through a layer of olive oil that protects wines from oxidation, topped with a seal of pinewood and resin. So good was this preservation method, that when an expedition from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology fished out two Phoenician shipwrecks in 1999, an entire wine cargo all the way back from 750 BCE was still fully intact.

And as civilizations evolved, their winemaking practices naturally evolved as well. Where before people stored wine in giant earthen jars or containers crafted from animal hides, eventually a new method of storing wine was developed: the famous wine barrels. We may have first seen these rounded containers as kids in our favorite morning cartoons, where someone would inevitably topple an entire crater of them and comically run across the barrel’s length like a hamster in a wheel. In reality, closed barrels have been around the winemaking world since 900 BCE, or the Iron Age in Northern Europe (open “barrels”, or wooden buckets, had been used by the Egyptians since 2960 BCE).

Originally, it was only because it was more practical to crate around wooden containers that could be tossed and tussled in transfer and transport without breaking as easily as their clay counterparts. Later on, people discovered that barrel-enclosed wines develop a deeper flavor and aroma than others because the wooden containers themselves altered the composition of the liquor contents, both due to their physical structure and chemical compounds. To this day, we still use wooden barrels, oak in particular, for the same reasons. As wine spread out all across the globe geographically and culturally, it has steadily become a staple piece of history. From Greek philosophers, to Egyptian queens, to French emperors, to just about everyone in between, wine has become a part of everyday life in all corners of the world.

In a land faraway…

But while wine may have its origins in the lands of the east, the modern day winery landscape is dominated by western countries. Leading that are the European powerhouses of France, Italy, and Spain, whose winemaking prowess are so in demand that they generally produce around half of the world’s wines. Even so, quality can come from anywhere and countries far away from these three European nations are beginning to make a name for themselves in the global stage. Here are the parts of the world any wine lover should definitely take note of.

Argentina

This vivaWines from Argentinacious South American nation is one of the world’s top wine producers, accounting for the fifth largest volume produced in the world, behind only France, Italy, Spain, and the USA. Having held this honor for several years now, Argentina has gradually begun to follow in its best competitor’s footsteps, and has shifted the industry’s focus from high quantity, low quality wines (hence, the number of its global sales), to lesser volume, but better varieties of liquor. And with this change in priorities, Argentinian wine is steadily becoming more and more recognizable in tables across the globe.

Of all the world-class wines that the country has produced over the centuries, Argentina’s pride and joy remains to be Malbec. A rich, earthy wine, whose sultry flavor and aroma strongly depend on the region of origin, Malbec comes from a purple grape variety originally from southwest France. In the colder and wetter French climate, the Malbec grape was only a minor variety that did not flourish. Instead, it found its home in the dry, arid deserts of Argentina, where the absence of humidity afforded it the time it needed to take soil and thrive. Today, Argentina holds the largest acreage of Malbec in the world, and the wine has become truly and uniquely Argentine. Characteristic of the country’s dry climate, Malbec, as well as other local varieties like Torrontés and Bonarda, carry distinct, earthen undertones that enrich and warm the liquors’ flavors and aromas. In addition to these, Argentine soil also nurtures other prominent grape varieties like the local pink skin grapes of Cereza and Criolla Grande, as well as immigrant breeds like Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Sangiovese, Nebbiolo, and others.

Wine lovers of the world would be remiss not to include Argentina on their itinerary, with the South American country housing some of the most prolific and picturesque winemaking regions in the world. Mendoza is the country’s most famous wine region, hosting some of Argentina’s most prolific wineries like Clos de los Siete and Carmelo Patti. Mendoza province is regarded as the heart of Argentinian winemaking, and produces around two-thirds of the nation’s overall wines.

Salta is another prominent Argentine wine region, best known for its intense terrains that still contrive to produce some of the nation’s best tasting liquors. The border region of San Juan likewise thrives on agriculture, with wine production being among its top economic activities, thanks largely to its fertile valleys that allow grapes and other fruits to flourish. Finally, the province of La Rioja is another of Argentina’s leading wine regions, with nearly 20,000 acres of vineyard to its name. La Rioja enjoys a dry and warm climate, with the mornings being sunny enough to nurture its crops, and the evenings cooling down to allow wine grapes to remain fresh.

 

Australia

Wines from AustraliaThis country’s rich and dynamic liquor culture is vividly encapsulated in every bottle of Australian wine that it exports. In fact, Australia, like Argentina, is another top wine-producing and -exporting nation in the world, tallying about 780 million litres a year as of 2012. Of this literage, Aussies have shown the most favor for their own local products, with Australians consuming over half of that literage.

To the rest of the world, Aussie wine is best known for its affordable bottles and beginner-friendly flavors. Most of these are generically labelled from “South East Australia”, which could refer to any number of winemaking regions in the country. Even so, each region proudly boasts of its own distinct product, every one unique to the locale’s climate and environs like the rugged Shiraz from the Barossa Valley, the cool Chardonnay of Limestone Coast, or the classic Merlot of Mudgee. South Australian regions are in particular are among the best winemaking areas in the country, with Adelaide leading as the largest wine growing region in all of Australia. New South Wales is another prominent area, best known for its Chardonnay and Shiraz production. Another region to take note of Victoria, whose cooler climates have led to some truly excellent Pinot Noir.

Australia is blessed with about 130 varieties of grape vines which local manufacturers certainly take advantage of. Of these, its Syrah, locally rebranded as the “Shiraz”, is its most successful and important variety. In fact, the Australian take on the classic Syrah had been such a hit, that manufacturers from far reaches of the globe have also begun to use the new term to refer to their own Syrah. Other than this, Australia’s prominent grape varieties are their Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay, and other immigrant grapes. It is worth noting that although Australia abundantly grows numerous grape varieties, none of them are actually native, and wine practices in the country only started when the Vitis vinera (common grape vine) was introduced between the late 1700s to early 1800s. Since then, however, Australia has begun to breed its own, mostly as a combination of immigrant varieties, like Cienna and Tarrango. 

Truly, Australia’s robust winemaking industry, coupled with its inexpensive selections, brings a taste of the world’s best to many a dinner table around the globe.

 

Chile

Wines from ChileThe adventurous origin of Chile’s first vineyards has translated into equally colorful and eclectic flavors and varieties of wine that the nation has now become known for. Spanish conquistadors first brought the common grape vine to Chilean lands in the 16th century, and by the 19th century, the selection has expanded to include French varieties that, to this day, remains to be some of the best wines Chile is known for.

Chilean wines are cultivated in one of the world’s most unique natural environs. The country is located in an inherently warm region just south of the equator, but it is bordered by expansive mountain ranges that creates a buffer from its neighbors, making it colder than it would otherwise be. Additionally, Chile’s coastlines stretch considerably, giving the country’s regions greatly varying climates. All this combined allows Chile to grow an abundant variety of grapes, in excellent conditions that let them flourish and ripen magnificently. And although the nation has not always taken advantage of this, the 1980s has seen a renaissance in Chile’s winemaking practices. Today, Chilean wines like Cabernet Sauvignons of Aconcagua Valley, Gold Reserve of Carmen, Casa Real of Santa Rita, among others, are slowly making a name for themselves in the world for their distinct, subtle earthy hints that are unlike the flamboyant flavors of most New World wines, and their capacity for mid- to long-term aging.

Chile’s rich soils have also proven to be fertile grounds in which other international grape varieties can grow well. In addition to the abovementioned, Chile also cultivates white wine grapes like Sauvignon blanc, Chardonnay, and Riesling, as well as reds like Merlot and even the rare Syrah. And much like Argentina has truly owned the Malbec, another French grape wine has crossed the ocean to find its new home in the warmer regions of Chile. Carménère originated from Bordeaux, France, and was even regarded to be one of the original six red grapes of Boudreaux, but now hardly grows in the area. Instead, this red grape wine now grows in abundance in nearly 10,000 hectares of Chilean vineyards, and has even come to be regarded as the national symbol for Chilean wines. It has a sweet and spicy taste, and relatively lower tannin levels that makes it blend milder and lighter, and is best consumed while young.

The Chilean regions that should be on any wine lover’s global itinerary include the famous Colchagua Valley, best known for their exquisite Carménère, Syrah, and Malbec; the historic Maipo Valley, with its lovely Cabernets; the romantic Casablanca valley, with its Sauvignon Blancs, Pinot Noirs, and other whites; and the Limari Valley to the north, whose unique microclimate has produced some remarkable white wines.

 

France

Wines from France
The superstar of the world of wine has earned its reputation well. As one of, if not the, top winemaking nation in the world, France has mastered the craft of cultivating, producing, and exporting the best liquors in the world, with a rich history of centuries of winemaking tradition dating all the way back to ancient Roman times. France enjoys many naturally fertile environs that are highly conducive to winemaking, originating numerous varieties of grapes now used all over the world. And although New World wines, such as the abovementioned Chile, Argentina, and Australia, are now seeing a marked increase in popularity, the classic French wine remains to be a staple in dinner tables of the globe.

French wines are known for their deep, complex flavors that are recognized to be some of the best in the world, but they are not always as beginner-friendly as their New World counterparts. One reason for this is because unlike most winemaking regions, the French do not label their wines by the grapes used, making it a little trickier to make a selection. French wines are instead categorized by the concept of terroir, which refers to the wine’s origin as a whole, primarily the natural factors involved in its creation like the soils in which it is cultivated, rock altitudes, the terrain, temperature variations, and other elements. Even two wines that come from the same region can have different terroir, adding another layer to the mystique and complexity of the French wine.

The most prestigious classification a wine from France can have is the Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée or Protégée (AOC or AOP), a government-regulated system of categorization that judges the conditions in which the wines were produced. This is a distinction awarded only to the highest-quality wines that passed strict and rigorous testing, ensuring that its bearers are, truly, world-class.

Many of the best known wines around the world originated from France. The most popular red wine Cabernet Sauvignon, for instance, came from Bordeaux, as an exquisite, natural cross between the grape varieties of Cabernet Franc and Sauvginon Blanc. The high concentration and age worthiness of Cabernet Sauvignon are much beloved qualities, and its strong flavors and high tannin content, a natural, textural element that gives astringent and bitter tastes, make this red wine the perfect partner to rich and flavorful dishes.

Other French regions have likewise originated other world-class staples. The famous Pinot Noir and Chardonnay come from the beautiful vineyards of the Burgundy region. Champagnes are named for the region of Champagne, who proudly take ownership of the popular sparkling wine. The Loire Valley has some of the richest wine-growing regions in the country, and their white wines are some of the best in the world. Other noteworthy winemaking regions include Alsace, known for their unique French and German grapes, Provence, with their lovely rosés, Languedoc, best noted to be the largest French producer in terms of volume, and several more.

Italy

Wines from ItalyAnother superpower in the winemaking world is this historic European nation. Italy accounts for a good percentage of the world’s wines produced annually, and Italian wine remains to be a strong favorite in many parts of the globe.

Italy’s winemaking practices began thousands of years ago, flourishing greatly under the Roman era in the 2nd century BC, and remaining to be a powerhouse in the industry today. Wine is an important aspect of the Italian culture, and is even seen in some parts of the world as an extension of it. In a manner of speaking, one major reason why Italian wine is well loved by foreigners is because the Italian culture itself is viewed favorably in many countries and cultures. But this isn’t to take away from the inherently delectable flavors of Italian wine. On the contrary, the romantic image of Italy actually compounds to the experience, making each and every bottle all the richer for it.

Italian wines are categorized in various ways. Vino Da Tavola is the most basic classification, referring to a wine that could have been produced from anywhere in the European Union territory. Vini Varietali (Eng: “varietal wines”), as the name suggests, are made from a combination of a variety of sanctioned international grapes. Similar to vini,vini varietali can only be cultivated within the EU. Vini IGP (Indcazione di Geografica Tipica; Eng: Typical Geographic Indication) is used to distinguish the “Super Tuscan” range of wines, as well as those produced in specified Italian regions. The IGP classification has strict regulations to promote only the highest-quality wines locally produced in Italy. Finally, the last classification is Vini DOP (Eng: Wines with Protected Designation of Origin) refer to wines that have been categorized as IGPs for at least five years, and must pass additional, and even more stringent, qualifiers to be recognized as one of the best products that Italy has to offer. Wines that achieve this certification are guaranteed to be of the utmost quality.

Italy’s 20 wine regions are solely responsible for producing all of the nation’s wines, and each region has its own distinct environment and traditions that result in equally unique wines. The Barolo region has is most notable for producing Italy’s most iconic wine: the eponymous Barolo. Known as the “wine of kings, the king of wines”, this full-bodied, dry red wine is a celebration of complex aromas and flavors, and ages exceptionally well, which is why it has graced many a prestigious dinner table over the course of centuries, from the royal House of Savoy in the 1800s when it first earned its outstanding reputation, to the modern dinner parties of the 21st century elites.

Other Italian wine regions include the historic Sicily, best known for its bold Nero d’Avola (red) and refreshing Inzolia, Grillo, and Catarrato (whites); Puglia, and its sweet Primitivo and deep Negroamaro (reds); Veneto, with its sparkling Prosecco, dry Garganega (white), and tart Corvina and Merlot (reds); Tuscany; Emilia Romagna, known for its red sparkling Lambrusco; Piedmont, which originated flavorful reds like Barbera and Dolcetto, sparkling Moscato d’Asti, and lean white Cortese; Abruzzo, with its medium-bodied Montepulciano (red) and fruity Trebbiano (white); Campania, noted for its savory Aglianico (red) and sweet Falanghina (white); Lombardy, which produces juicy reds like Bonarda and Pinot Nero (reds) and light-bodied white Grasevina; and Friuli-Venezia Giulia, known for its whites, Pinot Grigio and Sauvignon, and reds Merlot and Refosco.

New Zealand

Wines from New ZealandThis beautiful island country is another New World nation, and bears the great honor of being the “Sauvignon Blanc capital of the world.” An up-and-comer in the winemaking industry, New Zealand currently only accounts for 1% of the world’s wine, but it is a remarkable 1% indeed.

New Zealand has a maritime climate, and the cooler temperatures New Zealand experiences in abundance makes all the difference to its crops, allowing its grapes to retain their acidity, giving them their signature crisp wine flavor. In addition, this island country is also blessed with a mountainous landscape, which creates soil quality that is optimum to nurturing its crops. Most notably, New Zealand soils contain limestone, which gives its Pinot Noirs that desirable but sometimes elusive chalky quality. As a result, New Zealand’s Pinot Noir is now steadily climbing the ranks of the nation’s best wines to join the classic Sauvignon Blanc at the top.

And the local Sauvignon’s reputation is certainly well-deserved. There are at present seven regions in New Zealand dedicated to producing this scrumptious liquor, and they all bring something unique and remarkable to the table. To the north are the regions of Hawke’s Bay, Wairara (Martinborough), and Gisborne, who enjoy warmer and milder climates than their southern counterparts and, in turn, produce sweeter and riper varieties of Sauvignon Blanc that carry a deliciously serene tropical flavor. Farther south from the equator are the regions of Marlborough, Nelson, Waipara (Canterbury), and Central Otago, whose colder climates make for stronger, more acidic varieties. While these southern wines likewise carry distinctly tropical flavors, the tastes are stronger and more intense, guaranteed to be dryer and more earthy.

But aside from the world-famous Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc, New Zealand also proudly offers other kinds of wine like Riesling, Chardonnay, Shiraz, and many more. 

Portugal

Wines from PortugalPortuguese wines are as rich and diverse as their history. Hailing from traditions and legacies spanning thousands of years, the wines of Portugal are the product of countless winemaking practices and developments from the ancient civilizations like the Phoenicians and Romans, to New World explorers, and modern traders.

Interestingly enough, however, that although Portuguese winemaking practices may have come from various sources over the course of history, the nation itself has largely retained its economic isolation throughout the years. In a way, once outsiders have come in and brought their methods and resources to the shores of Portugal, few products have ever left its borders. Because of this, many of Portugal’s grape varieties grow exclusively in the nation’s soil, making for some of the most exotic wines on the market.

Today, the Portuguese wine regions of Douro Valley and Pico Island are recognized and protected as UNESCO World Heritages for their long and rich history, and is known to produce some of Portugal’s best and most distinctive wines. Port tops this list, with the Douro region originating some of the world’s most exquisite fortified sweet wines. In addition to its trademark red port, and newer white and rosé ports, Douro also produces the full-bodied red, tinto douro and the light-bodied white, douro branco. Another popular Portuguese wines is Vinho Verde, best served young, and whose crisp flavors make for a delicious ice-cold cocktail paired with salads, fish, or vegetable dishes. The perfect dinner for an evening in any one of Portugal’s breathtaking beaches. For Pico Island, the local white wine is a definite must-taste. An unbelievably sweet drink with distinctive smoky undertones reminiscent of the region’s volcanic landscape, the Pico Island white wine perfectly complements the place’s equally enthralling beauty.

 

South Africa

Wines from South AfricaSouth African wines have historically been some of the best in the world, and after several centuries, that same world-class quality is now slowly but steadily making a comeback. The colorful nation of South Africa is once again taking advantage of its opulent lands and natural environs to cultivate and produce high quality, high-valued red and white wines.

Today, South Africa is among the top ten wine producers globally. Its reds and whites are gracing the store shelves and dinner tables all over the world as more and more people fall in love with the sultry, complex flavors that can only come from a Mediterrenean of intense sunlight and dry heat. South Africa’s best red wines include its very own Cabernet Sauvignon, whose deeper flavors make it a distinct alternative to its fruiter peers, with its unique underlying of spices that superbly blend with its natural fruit flavors. South African Syrah has likewise become a crowd favorite because of its dark spiced fruit flavor and unusual chocolatey texture, which makes for a truly sensual liquor unlike anything else.

Pinotage is a uniquely South African product, combining Pinot Noir and Cinsault to create a wholly new variety of distinct fruity flavors, underscored by smoky, earthen tones of spiced chocolate and tobacco. Other South African reds include the Merlot, often blended with Cabernet Sauvignon but also comes in single-variety, Pinot Noir, Malbec, and many more. South Africa also offers a delicious range of whites, which includes Chenin Blanc, from its most planted grape variety; Colombard, which is often used to compound other liquors like Chenin Blanc or brandy; Sauvignon Blanc, which shares many similarities to New Zealand variants; and others.

South Africa has three distinct wine regions, defined in the Wyn van Oorsprong (“Wine of Origin”) act of 1973, which is a system slightly similar to the French appellations. South African wines are labelled depending on the region from which its grapes came from, but other categories present in the French appellation system, including quality and rank, do not apply. The Western Cape, which hosts the districts of Boberg, Breede River Valley, Cape South Coast, Coastal Region, Klein Karoo, and Olifants River; the Northern Cape; and the Eastern Cape are Africa’s winemaking areas, each with their own unique specialties. 

 

Spain

Wines from SpainThe third winemaking powerhouse on this list boasts of an acreage of nearly 3 million acres dedicated solely to cultivating wines. With Spain’s long and colorful history, it comes as no surprise that Spanish wines are equally bold and vivacious.

The country’s natural geographic and climatic conditions make the Spanish viticulture a rich and flourishing practice. Numerous grape varieties thrive in Spanish soil, like its most famous reds, Tempranillo, Garnacha, and Monastrell and well-known whites from Galicia, Palomino, Airen, and Macabeo.

As a major winemaking nation, there are several regions in Spain that produce their own variety of wines, largely based on their native crops, their natural environs, and the climate that they experience. As a country, Spanish landscapes can be greatly diverse from one another, making for a broader range of offerings. Of note, the northwest region (Galicia) enjoys lush greeneries and abundantly grows the Albariño grape variety, letting them produce their signature, piquant whites. Next, the Mediterranean coast (Valencia, Catalonia, Murcia) has led to some of Spain’s most fertile grounds, which are conducive for the production of Spanish sparkling wine, Cava, and their prized red wine, Priorat. The Ebro River Valley (La Rioja, Navarra) proudly produces Tempranillo, and rosé wines from the Garnacha grape. The climate in this region allows its winemakers to vary the aging of the same kind of wine, creating more sub-variations.

Another region is the Duero River Valley (Verdejo, Toro, RIbera del Duero, Leon), most notable for their spirited white and red wines. Next is the Central Plateau, one of the most important locations in the entire country, which hosts the capital of Madrid. As its name suggests, the region is elevated, with a dry and sunny climate, allowing for some of Spain’s most prized grape varieties to thrive. The historic Andalucía is another noteworthy region, best known for its Sherry, whose hot lands give its wines deep, earthy flavors. And lastly, the Islands (including the Canary Islands) have a diverse range of products that include reds, dessert wines, among others.

Spanish reds can be excellent entry-level wines. Tempranillo is a sweet red that can either come as young, having been aged for only a handful of years to capture that new, tart, tangy flavor, or as aged, with several years in oak or bottle to provide a softer, more sophisticated essence, tempering down the spiciness of the young Tempranillo to an almost mellow, sweet flavor. In the same way, another Spanish red, Garnacha, also comes in two varieties, with young Garnacha bearing smoother, more saccharine flavoring, as opposed to high-end Garacha, which carries high tannin for deeper, earthier flavors. Other Spanish reds are also noted for their earthy undertones and almost spicy flavors, in addition to their generally budget-friendly prices.

But an affordable price tag does not mean compromised quality, in the case of the Spanish wine. An elaborate and rigid set of qualifications, strictly implemented by a governing body, ensures that every bottle of Spanish wine is up to grade. Like France and Italy, Spain has its own system of appellation known as Denominación de Origen (DO) for more generic varieties, and Denominaciones de Origen Calificadas (DOCa) for higher-quality wines. Similar to previously discussed systems, the goal of the DO is to evaluate Spanish wine for the conditions in which they were produced, considering things like the grapes used, the ageing period, economic factors, label details, etc. A DO label ensures that the wine is of sound quality, making it the more favorable option to consumers.

 

United States of America

Wines from USALast on our list of the wines of the world are the bold and vivacious offerings of the United States. As another major wine-producing nation, the US indeed has some of the best selections available on the market, most notably from the arid deserts of California, who produce about 90% of America’s wines.

It is worth noting that while American winemaking practices were originated by European settlers, the North American continent itself is home to many species of grapes used extensively in the industry. Such is an excellent combination that allowed the US winemaking industry to really flourish over the years. Today, all 50 states of the US produce their own varieties of wine, making for a truly diverse viticulture. Leading in production, by a massive margin, is California, who most notably produces fruity Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon. The remaining 10% of American wines comes from the other 49 states, who produce their own reds, whites, and unique products like the resilient Norton or Chambourcin, who thrive in the cold, northeast climate.

Like the winemaking powerhouses from across the pond, the US has its own appellation system to categorize its products. The American Viticultural Area (AVA) system originated in the 1980s, and evaluates the wines that come from these designated locations. Each AVA is a known grape-growing area, whose distinct facets, like geographic and cultural elements, play a role in the production of its wine. Unlike its European counterparts, however, AVAs are not actually used to determine the quality of a product, and the system is mainly used to state the origin of the wine. One thing to note, however, is that the AVA system can have sub-categories exist within one system, independent of other AVAs. Within these sub-appellations, regions may rank their wines based on quality and other regulations, but these qualifications don’t necessarily apply to other AVAs.

While California has certainly made a name for itself, not only in the United States but in the global scene as well, other winemaking states and regions are also to be commended for their excellent work. In addition to the world-famous Napa Valley and Sonoma of Northern California, wine-lovers should also take note of Washington State, with its 14 AVAs that include Walla Walla and Columbia Valley, and its whites like Riesling and reds like Merlot; Oregon, with its colder climate that produces a fantastic Gamay; New York State, with the scenic Finger Lakes and historic North Fork; and many more.

Some of the most notable American wines are produced in these regions, like the opulent Cabernet Sauvignon of California, the tropical Pinot Gris of Oregon, Washington State’s vivacious Syrah, and many more.

In the beautiful islands of the Philippines...


Wines from PhilippinesAt home here, in the Philippines, where the drinking culture is equally lively and colorful, wine is gradually becoming a staple in Filipino banquets and dinner tables alike. The sweet and aromatic flavors of wines is a mellow counterpoint to the stronger liquors of the Philippines, and it is a taste that is certainly right at home with people known for their sweet tooth.

Wines from the United States are a particular favorite among Filipinos. Since 2009, the Philippines has been the US’ largest Southeast Asian market, and Filipinos still crave more. Reds are quite popular with the public, whose longstanding preference for harder liquors mean the deeper and stronger flavors of red wines hold more appeal than the mellower taste of whites and rosés. Even so, all three varieties have found their own following among the Filipino people. Reds like Pinot Noir, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, and ZInfandel are found to be the top favorites among locals. For whites, Filipinos are partial to Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio, Chenin Blanc, Riesling, and Gewürtzaminer. Rosés like White Zinfandel and White Merlot are likewise popular.

And in the true adventurous spirit of the Filipino, locals are more than game to try new flavors. The above listed have easily found acceptance in Philippine tables because of their naturally sweeter tendencies, but Filipinos are showing strong signs of shifting to other, more mature tastes as the wine industry becomes more and more mainstream in the country.

The wines of the world may share histories, traditions, and even aspects of their flavors, but there is no denying that each and every region brings something unique and spectacular to the table. From the classic French wines to the rising South African varieties, there is an entire world of selection to indulge in.






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