Where to Drink Wine Chris Losh
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If there's one thing that sets wine apart from other drinks, it's the fact that it can taste different depending on where it comes from. Sure, winemakers have an influence - of course they do. But you can take grapes from two different vineyards, treat them exactly the same way and each will have its own distinctive character sometimes even if the vineyards are only a few metres apart. The French, as you might expect, have a word for it: terroir - the untranslatable term that takes in everything from climate and vineyard orientation to soil and the general habitat.
And that, frankly, is what this book is all about. Because drinking a wine at home is one thing, drinking it in the place where it's grown quite another. Being able to take in the terroir as you sip is the difference between colour TV and high-definition 3D - it all just seems more, well... real. Slither your way up the slatey slopes of the Mosel, or crunch across the alluvial soils of the Médoc, and the cool, stony punch at the heart of the wines starts to make sense. Taste the light-footed lift of an English white wine or the tang of a manzanilla sherry, and you'll remember the chalky breeze on your face in the Hampshire vineyard, the whisper of sea-salt and anchovies of an Andalucian lunchtime. And going there doesn't just connect you to the land, but to the past as well. As you kick up dust-trails in the heat of the Douro's terraced vineyards it's easy to imagine square-sailed barcos carrying their casks of port to the waiting cellars, warehouses and merchant ships of Porto hundreds of years ago. Visit the original house of Dr Christopher Penfold outside Adelaide or the old cellars of Ksara in Lebanon and you are in the places that gave birth to an entire country's wine industry. It's a pilgrimage as much as a visit. Taste in situ, in other words, and flavours, history, terroir - they all start to make sense.
Clearly, given there are tens of thousands of wineries in the world, it's not possible to cover everything. But in this book I've tried to cover as many countries and regions as I can, so wherever you happen to be or are thinking of going, there should be great visits within striking distance. We go from some of the highest vineyards in the world to ones practically dipping their toes in the sea. From vineyards on the edge of cities to ones that are perfect for seekers of solitude. From wineries steeped in tradition to new arrivals intent on ripping up the rule book. There are visits with games for kids, swimming pools, zip-wires and boules, and others that are little more than a shack with passionate staff; places where you can ride horses and bikes through the vineyard, and ones with slick visitor experiences. All manner of life is here.
So whether you're a seasoned visitor or a first-timer, a retiree or a student, a young couple or a young family, I hope you will feel inspired to visit. Partly because there are bound to be dozens of wineries out there that are perfect for you.
But mostly because, in wine, what you taste and where you taste are the same thing, and making that connection is the most thrilling thing of all.