24 July 2015 by Ronan Gay
Even for the most ardent epicurean, a holiday that revolves around food and wine can be one of the most pleasurable. Not only is it a barrage of enjoyment for the senses, it also offers another way of getting to know the history, culture and customs of a particular destination intimately.
From freshly baked egg custard tarts in Portugal, to delicate zesty Sancerre white wines in the gorgeous Loire Valley, and rich game meats in South Africa, each region has its own speciality and particular flavours.
Our top food and wine themed holidays
- Cape, Wine, Garden Route & Safari
- Chile wine and wonders tour
- Italy on board the Orient Express
- France self-drive tour of the Loire
- Swedish Lapland winter adventure
- Portugal, Lisbon, Porto and Algarve holiday
Whether you're a wine connoisseur looking to indulge in a wine tasting tour, or love nothing better than tantalising the senses with freshly made local cuisine, here we've collated the best food and wine orientated holidays to take around the globe.
Have you ever washed down a mouthful of warthog, ostrich or crocodile with a fresh Sauvignon Blanc or full-bodied Merlot? If not, then you're missing out on one of the key experiences of a holiday to South Africa. Often known as 'rainbow cuisine' because of its wide range of cultural influences, South African cuisine offers an eclectic blend of Indian and Cape Malay curries, and mouth-wateringly juicy game meats.
And of course, South Africa is one of the world's most famous and best wine making areas. Wine has been produced in South Africa since 1659, and in 1685 the governor of the Cape of Good Hope established the southern hemisphere's first wine estate at Constantia near Cape Town.
Now there's a young generation of wine makers making better and better varieties, and wine tourism has become big business. The best vineyards are based in the Western Cape, including Constantia and the Winelands of Franschhoek, and many vineyards now offer luxury accommodation as well as excellent cuisine. Don't miss the opportunity to sip a vintage whilst gazing at a picturesque vineyard.
When you think of Chile, what are the first things that come to mind? Spectacular scenery, rich red wines, and majestic mountains, of course. From coasting through the Atacama Desert admiring flocks of bright pink flamingos punctuating the landscape, to scaling a live volcano, there's nothing better than relaxing afterwards with a locally made glass of merlot in hand.
The most successful vineyards in Chile are in areas with hot summers, cooling coastal breezes and moderate rainfall. Some of the best are amid the cool but frostless foothills of the mountains near the Pacific at Errazuriz, the Aconcagua and the Maule Valley.
A fantastic way to enjoy the rich wines of Chile is to take a wine tour. Travelling from Santiago to the Atacama Desert can offer an unforgettable route, but the Colchagua Valley is one of the best-known wine regions in Chile. Occupying the southern part of the Rapel Valley, the area runs from the Andes in the east to the Coastal Range in the west. Visit to enjoy tasty Cabernet Sauvignons, and delicious Pinot Noirs, all with incredible views across the foothills of the Coastal Range.
What's the secret of Italian food? It is famous the world over, and has become a staple of places as far and wide as New York City and London. But what's the reason? Perhaps it's the cuisine's sheer simplicity. Blending low cost, natural ingredients such as tomatoes, olive oil, cheese, meats and salamis with mixed salads and fresh fruits to create a range of classics.
One of the finest ways to explore Italy is on the Orient Express, which can take you directly from Folkestone to Venice. The famous train's history spans back to 1883, when the first train set out from London to Constantinople. Now, the 32-hour journey from London to Venice has become a perennial favourite and classic great rail journey.
And what makes this a foodie trip? The cuisine served on board is fantastic, and you'll enjoy a continuous stream of champagne, aperitifs and snacks throughout the duration of your journey. Travel through Paris, then on to the Swiss Alps, before alighting in Venice, where you will get the opportunity to explore the stunning 15th and 16th century architecture, and, while there, indulge in some mouth-watering Italian cuisine.
The Loire Valley is a land that stokes the romantic imagination, with its verdant countryside, winding rivers and stunning chateaux. Known as ‘the Garden of France', it is without doubt one of the top food and wine destinations in the world.
Every town has a colourful market that sells delicious fresh charcuterie and special cheeses, and many of Paris' top restaurants source their ingredients from the area.
To compliment its gastronomic credentials, the Loire is also an area of fantastic wine production. The last 500 km of the valley hold the Sancerre and Nantes regions, and the vine-covered slopes of Bordeaux and Burgundy aren't far away. With the best-known grapes produced in Sancerre, Pouilly-Fume and Muscadet, there's no shortage of delicious wines to accompany any contemporary French meal.
Although famous for the Northern Lights, husky dog tours, and exciting winter sports, delicious cuisine isn't the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Swedish Lapland.
However, despite being under-the-radar, destinations like the Sorbyn Lodge are renowned for their delicious, hearty and rustic food. Freshly caught meat and fish make up the majority of the meals, which are mostly prepared with ingredients sourced form the surrounding forests and rivers. Reindeer and elk are regular features on menus, as well as game birds such as grouse and capercaillie. Another key ingredient is fresh fish, including salmon, grayling, brown trout and arctic char.
With hearty breakfasts, rich broths and meaty stews, Swedish Lapland's cuisine is the perfect food to ward off the freezing cold winters. To experience the best of what Swedish Lapland has to offer, we suggest a stay at the Sorbyn Lodge, which combines first class meals with excellent and exciting excursions. Head there to combine snowshoeing, skiing, husky rides and delicious, filling food.
The sun-drenched capital of Portugal, Lisbon, is famous for its freshly caught seafood, rich and delicious charcuterie, and perhaps above all, its salt cod and custard tarts. With its terracotta roofs, churches, cute yellow trams and crumbling neighbourhoods, it makes for an idyllic holiday destination.
Another prime foodie area within Portugal is Alentejo, a UNESCO World Heritage Site where history, food and delicious wines are in abundance. Just north of the Algarve, it is sometimes referred to as the new Tuscany, and boasts fertile soil that supports bountiful vineyards. The food is delicious and rich, featuring ingredients such as sheep's cheese, black pork, wild mushrooms and asparagus. Each town in the region also has its own particular speciality, whether that's tangy olive oil or egg-yolk-based deserts.
One of the best ways to explore and learn about the food of Portugal is to take a tour of the country's Pousadas, which are luxury, traditional or historic hotels scattered across the country. Don't miss the five-star Pousada do Port in Lisbon. While staying there, you will get the opportunity to visit one of the city's famous port wine cellars and enjoy a first-class wine tasting session too.