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Aren Bergstrom Content & Video Editor 9 months ago

12 Best Destinations for Food & Wine Vacations

  • Food and wine in Barossa Valley.

Sampling food and wine is one of the great joys of travel. In fact, for a lot of people (myself included) it’s the main joy of travel. Every new city brings with it new restaurants to try, new local specialities to sample, and new craft beers to drink. It’s a pleasure to experience a new culture through its tastes and smells at the dinner table, one that I’d happily repeat for the rest of my life.

But which places are the most rewarding for food and wine vacations? We’ve consulted Goway’s not-inconsiderable array of food and wine trips across the globe and have come up with what we think are some quality answers. If you’re looking to eat and drink your way through a new country in the near future, consider these your surefire destinations.


 

1. France

Paris at nighttime

How could I start anywhere else? France practically invented the modern concept of eating out and continues to have one of the world’s most celebrated food and wine cultures. Paris may no longer have the most Michelin-starred restaurants in the world (we’ll get to the place that does in a bit), but it’s still one of the most appealing cities in which to dine out. It has seemingly endless numbers of quality restaurants serving up everything from French classics to cutting-edge haute cuisine to international dishes drawing on everything from Chinese to Vietnamese to Ethiopian traditions. The country’s many wine regions, from Burgundy to Bordeaux, also offer amateur sommeliers the chance to experience a wide range of vintages, all several orders better than what you’re used to at home. Bonus: you can enjoy real champagne in the only place in the world where it’s bottled.


 


  2. Australia

Tasting wine in Barossa Valley.

Perhaps known more for wine than food, Australia is a great place to let your palate lead the way. This entire continent in a country has some of the world’s most celebrated wine regions, including the Barossa Valley, Yarra Valley, Hunter Region, and Margaret River. Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Chardonnay are the most popular varieties in the country, but you’ll find good Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc, and Riesling as well. As for food, Australian cuisine may not make the same waves as some of the other national cuisines on this list, but you’ll find restaurants in Melbourne and Sydney that stand toe-to-toe with any others in the world. They’re great cities for dining out.


 


3. Japan

Shrimp tempura on a table.

Japan is an enviable country to explore through food. Not only is it home to sushi, which has become one of the most popular dishes in the entire world, but also ramen (which is the most popular dish in the country), udon, soba, wagyu beef, tempura, tonkatsu, okonomiyaki, and several other dishes that have made waves around the world. Tokyo has recently unseated Paris as the city with the most Michelin-starred restaurants and is damn-near the best city in the world in which to dine out. It provides endless options and varieties within Japanese cuisine alone, from celebrated sushi bars to hole-in-the-wall ramen shops to high-quality and affordable department store restaurants to traditional inns with kaiseki cuisine. Add that to the fact that you can find restaurants serving almost any international cuisine you can think of and Tokyo becomes unimpeachable. The other cities are almost as good for food, especially Fukuoka, which is quickly garnering cachet as Japan’s go-to city for foodies. The rice wine known as sake is great as well and dangerously affordable.


 


4. Spain

Assorted tapas in Spain.

No country (save India) packs more colour per dish than Spain. Barcelona and Madrid still reward the majority of tourists with their bounty of flavours, but San Sebastian is quickly outpacing its two larger siblings as the country’s most celebrated food city. Valencia and Seville are no slouches either. Basically, once you hit the ground in Spain, you’re going to quickly realize that the slow-paced mornings and afternoon siestas are essential to accommodate the late dinners (we’re talking past 9pm) where you’ll unlock some incredible flavours, from thin slices of Iberian ham (jamon) to char-grilled seafood to colourful paella and other Spanish classics.


 


5. China

Temple of Heaven in Beijing.

It’s hard to overlook a country that consists of a fifth of the planet’s population. Chinese food is not homogenous and it’s almost impossible to sum up the appeal of such a multifaceted cuisine in a short paragraph, but if food is one of the main reasons you travel, make roads for China. Depending on whether you travel to the country’s north or south (or east or west), you’ll enjoy wildly-different dishes, but one region isn’t better than the other when it comes to food. Sichuan has all the spice you could ever hope for, while everywhere west of Xi’an boasts a style of cuisine completely new to most travellers. Even if you stick mainly to the cities of Beijing, Shanghai, and Hong Kong, you’ll get more than your money’s worth.


 


6. Italy

Central Market in Florence.

If there’s a more popular cuisine in Canada and the United States, I haven’t heard of it. Of course, the Italian food most people are used to in the cities of North America can’t hold a candle to the stuff you’ll eat in Italy. No matter where you end up in Italy, you’ll find culinary delicacies to enjoy. In Naples, you can get the original style of pizza, while in Rome you’ll find the thin-crusted Roman variety. Florence has all the colourful Tuscan food you could dream of, while the northern cities like Milan are home to heartier soups and baked dishes.


 


7. Thailand

Street vendor in Thailand.

Thailand is home to some of the most flavourful curries and noodle dishes on the planet. Bangkok is the epicentre of the country’s food scene, with some of the best restaurants in all of Southeast Asia. The street food scene is especially good, with humble road stalls and mobile carts producing some of the best pad thai or boat noodles you’ll find anywhere in the world. Chiang Mai offers northern delights, such as savoury khao soi, with its crispy noodles and delicious meats and vegetables in a curry sauce. The southern islands are also great for fresh seafood and beachside grills and endless nightlife opportunities, with all the party cocktails those opportunities bring with them.


 


8. Argentina

Grillhouse or parrilla in Argentina.

Wine, steak, and cheese are the hallmarks of Argentine cuisine. I hope you like such rich fair, because you’ll be eating a lot of it when you visit Argentina. In fact, Argentina has the second-highest rate of beef consumption in the world (second only to its neighbour, Uruguay). Head to a parrilla (grillhouse) to dine on assorted grilled meats, from bife de chorizo (sirloin steak, not chorizo as in sausage), salchicha parrillera (a spiral sausage), and provoleta, which is not meat but a disc of cheese cooked right on the grill. Aside from the delectable meats, you’ll also find great and affordable wine all across the country. Malbec, anyone?


 


9. India

Palace of the Winds in Jaipur.

Like China, India has had incalculable influence on world cuisine. Also like Chinese cuisine, Indian cuisine is almost impossible to boil down to one type of food. It’s incredibly varied, just like the different parts of the country, which all have different languages and cultural traditions. However, there are commonalities among the regional cuisines, which include curry as the foundation of most dishes. You can savour a variety of spiced meats cooked in a tandoor oven, opt for great vegetarian dishes like paneer, or enjoy the variety of savoury baked goods like samosa and delicious naan. Indian food is endlessly inventive and customizable, which makes a foodie trip to India one that can suit every kind of palate.


 

 


10. South Africa

Colourful homes of Bo-Kaap, Cape Town.

The food of the Rainbow Nation has enough flavour and colour to justify the country’s moniker. And the wine is among the world’s best and easiest-drinking. Cape Town is your best spot for a foodie vacation in the country, as it boasts the startling diversity that makes South Africa so appealing. As well, it’s close to the Garden Route and Winelands, which means that after feasting on Malay curry in the neighbourhood of Bo-Kaap, you can head on the road east to enjoy great Pinot Noir or Cinsault and nightly braai (grilled meat).


 

 


11. Chile

Santiago, Chile at Nighttime

Like its neighbour, Argentina, Chile boasts an inordinate amount of good meat and wine. Santiago is an incredible city to explore through cuisine with an abundance of restaurants serving high-end international dishes and local favourites, including pastel de choclo, a corn casserole with stuffed meat, the classic stew known as cazuela, or asado (barbecued meats). However, it’s the wine regions that really make it sing. Head to the Colchagua Valley to delve into the winemaking culture and visit celebrated wineries like Santa Cruz Winery.


 


12. Portugal

Douro River Vinelands in Portugal

Portugal is small, but it packs a lot of flavour into its modest landscape. You can spend your days on the beaches, driving between towns and feasting on the fresh seafood at each port. You can stick to Lisbon and enjoy the spoils of a world-class capital and dining hours that stretch late in the night. If you’re into wine, Porto is a no-brainer, but there’s also a great food culture there. The nearby winelands of the Douro Valley are also worth exploring, either on your own or as part of a day tour from one of the cities.


 

24 Jan 2020, 5:35 p.m.

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