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The best cruise ports for wine lovers

Tuesday 21 May 2024

A glass of wine in front of a beach.

It is no secret that going on a cruise promises breathtaking vistas and luxurious relaxation but also presents an unparalleled opportunity to explore the world of wine. For connoisseurs seeking to indulge in the finest vintages while traversing the seas, several ports of call stand out as must-visit destinations. From the sun-drenched vineyards of France to the picturesque landscapes of Porto, the wine regions of Italy, and the rich heritage of Spanish viticulture, here is a look at some of the best cruise ports for wine lovers.

The best cruise ports for wine lovers

  • Bordeaux, France

  • Brittany, France

  • Lisbon Portugal

  • Oporto, Portugal

  • Pisa, Italy

  • Livorno, Italy

  • Barcelona, Spain

  • Gijon, Spain

Bordeaux, France

A cold glass of rose in the French sun.

Nestled along the Garonne River, Bordeaux is synonymous with exceptional wine. As the world's largest wine-growing region, Bordeaux boasts over 60 appellations and nearly 7,000 châteaux, producing some of the most revered wines globally. Visitors can explore the historic city centre, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, before embarking on wine tours to renowned estates like Château Margaux, Château Lafite Rothschild, and Château Mouton Rothschild. Wine enthusiasts can savour Bordeaux's signature varietals, including Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Sauvignon Blanc, while soaking in the region's rich winemaking heritage. Guests can access Bordeaux from Le Verdon during their France cruise with Ambassador.

Brittany, France

In Brittany, wine culture takes a distinctive turn, diverging from the traditional vineyard landscapes found in regions like Bordeaux or Burgundy. While Brittany is not renowned for its wine production, it boasts a unique heritage of cider and apple-based beverages. Here, amidst the rugged coastline and lush greenery, visitors can discover local specialities such as Breton cider, made from a blend of regional apple varieties. Additionally, the region offers a growing interest in artisanal wine production, with a handful of vineyards producing limited quantities of white, rosé, and red wines. Exploring wine in Brittany provides a fascinating glimpse into the region's culinary landscape, where it influences not only the flavours of the wines but also the cultural identity of its people.

Lisbon, Portugal

In Lisbon, wine culture is deeply ingrained in the city's vibrant tapestry of flavours and traditions. While Lisbon itself isn't a major wine-producing region, it serves as a gateway to the nearby wine regions of Estremadura, Ribatejo, and Setúbal. Visitors to Lisbon can immerse themselves in the city's bustling markets, where local wines such as Vinho Verde and Vinho Tinto are proudly showcased alongside an array of regional delicacies. Additionally, Lisbon's historic neighbourhoods are dotted with wine bars and taverns, offering an opportunity to sample a diverse selection of Portuguese wines paired with delectable tapas.

For those seeking a deeper understanding of Portuguese wine culture, day trips to nearby vineyards and wineries provide insight into the winemaking process and the unique terroir of the region. In Lisbon, wine enthusiasts are invited to savour the rich flavours of Portugal's winemaking heritage against the backdrop of the city's vibrant energy and historic charm.

READ MORE: The Essential Guide to Lisbon, Portugal

Oporto, Portugal 

Wine glasses looking out over the view over the river in Oporto

Perched on the banks of the Douro River, Oporto is the beating heart of Portugal's Port wine industry. A UNESCO-listed city, Oporto beckons travellers with its charming streets, historic wine cellars, which are locally known as "caves", and panoramic views of the Douro Valley. Cruise passengers can delve into the art of Port wine production through guided tours of esteemed lodges such as Graham's, Taylor's, and Sandeman. From the sweet notes of awny to the rich complexities of Vintage Ports, Oporto offers an array of wine-tasting experiences that captivate the senses and leave an indelible impression on wine aficionados.

READ MORE: Must-try Food and Drink in Portugal

Pisa, Italy

Two glasses of wine in Italy.

In Pisa, wine culture blossoms amidst the city's iconic leaning tower and historic charm. While Pisa itself is not a major wine-producing region, it is surrounded by the renowned wine territories of Tuscany, offering visitors a tantalising array of vinous delights to explore. Within easy reach of Pisa lies the celebrated Chianti region, where rolling hills adorned with vineyards yield some of Italy's most esteemed red wines. Visitors can embark on wine tours to discover the secrets of Sangiovese and other indigenous grape varieties while enjoying breathtaking views of the Tuscan countryside. Back in Pisa, travellers can unwind at traditional wine bars and eateries nestled in the city's medieval streets, where you will be able to indulge in local specialities paired with exquisite Tuscan wines. Exploring wine in Pisa is a journey through the flavours and aromas of Tuscany, where every sip reflects the region's rich winemaking heritage.

Livorno, Italy

In Livorno, wine culture intertwines with the city's rich maritime history and Tuscan charm. Situated in the heart of the renowned wine region of Tuscany, Livorno serves as a gateway to some of Italy's most celebrated vineyards and wineries. Visitors to Livorno can embark on excursions to nearby wine-producing areas such as Bolgheri, known for its prestigious Super Tuscan wines, and the Chianti Classico region, home to iconic Tuscan reds.

In Livorno itself, wine enthusiasts can stroll through bustling markets brimming with local produce, including aromatic olive oils and artisanal cheeses, perfect for pairing with a regional tipple. The city's trattorias and enotecas offer a taste of authentic Tuscan cuisine, accompanied by a curated selection of wines showcasing the region's grape varieties. Exploring wine in Livorno provides a sensory journey through the flavours and traditions of Tuscany, where each sip tells a story of centuries-old winemaking heritage.

READ MORE: Which Country’s Cuisine is the Most Popular?

Barcelona, Spain

A woman holding a glass of wine in front of a view of Barcelona.

Barcelona, the vibrant capital of Catalonia, serves as a gateway to Spain's diverse wine regions, including the renowned appellations of Penedès, Priorat, and Rioja. Cruise passengers can explore Barcelona's bustling markets, such as La Boqueria, before venturing into the Catalan countryside to discover the essence of Spanish wine culture. From guided tours of Cava cellars like Freixenet and Codorníu to tastings of bold Rioja Reservas and velvety Priorat blends, Barcelona offers a tantalising glimpse into Spain's vinous heritage. With its blend of Mediterranean flair and avant-garde cuisine, Barcelona provides the perfect backdrop for wine enthusiasts to savour the diversity and depth of Spanish wines.

Gijon, Spain

In Gijon, Spain, wine culture thrives amidst the city's picturesque coastal setting and rich Asturian heritage. While Asturias is not traditionally known as a major wine-producing region like Rioja or Ribera del Duero, it boasts its own unique viticultural traditions. In Gijón, visitors can experience the local cider culture, with sidrerías (cider houses) serving crisp, refreshing Asturian cider poured in their traditional style. Additionally, Gijon's culinary scene showcases regional specialities like Asturian cheeses and seafood, providing a perfect pairing for the local drinks.

Though wine production in Asturias is limited, there has been a resurgence of interest in recent years, with a handful of boutique wineries crafting small-batch wines from indigenous grape varieties such as Albarín Blanco and Carrasquín. Exploring wine in Gijon offers a unique opportunity to delve into Asturias' distinct gastronomic heritage and discover the hidden gems of Spain's lesser-known wine regions.

Visiting these iconic ports on a Mediterranean cruise offers wine lovers an unparalleled opportunity to indulge their passion for fine wines while exploring some of the world's most captivating destinations. Whether it's the prestigious vineyards of Bordeaux, the centuries-old cellars of Oporto, the rustic charm of Tuscany, or the dynamic wine scene of Barcelona, each port beckons with its unique blend of history, culture, and, of course, exceptional wines. So, raise a glass and set sail on a voyage of discovery through the world's most enticing wine regions.

If you’re looking to enjoy a cruise holiday in 2024, then why not consider incorporating your love of wine with a cruise? We have a number of late cruise deals where you can spend the summer sipping on your favourite beverage in the beautiful sunshine.

For more inspiration, be sure to visit the rest of our blog.

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