10 Most Unique Wine Tastings In The World

There is wine tasting, and then there is wine tasting. There is nothing wrong with visiting a vineyard, looking at the neat rows of vines, and marveling at the large barrels before sitting down at a table to sample the goods. Add in a superb location, a nice restaurant offering wine pairings, or a quirky souvenir shop, and you have a little something extra.

But there are places that go even further to make sure you do not get bored while tasting your wine. Some offer an unusual way to sample the wine; others offer a unique way of making the wine or a location that is just as exciting as the wine itself.

Here is a list of some great experiences that even your non-wine-connoisseur traveling companions will appreciate. If you are looking for a truly memorable experience, then read on.

1. Marathon Des Châteaux Du Médoc, France

Let’s start with probably the strangest way of drinking wine ever: while running a marathon. Each year, the Marathon des Châteaux du Médoc takes place in and around the town of Pauillac in the wine region of Bordeaux. Runners, often donning fancy dress, take to the track to complete 26 miles punctuated by 23 stops. At each stop, they sample some of the region’s finest cheeses and other snacks and drink a glass of wine. Needless to say, closer to the finish line there are barely any runners left, and people walk along in various states of inebriation, but they’re full of cheer! For an unusual event with friends and some superb memories made along the way, why not try it?

Pro Tip: While you are in the region, head down to Cap Ferret, just west of Bordeaux, for some of the loveliest beaches in France.

Franschhoek Wine Tram hop-on hop-off tour, one of the best ways to discover Franschhoek Valley in scenic landscape of Wine Region, near Cape Town, South Africa.
Photo Credit: Benny Marty / Shutterstock.com

2. Franschhoek Wine Tram, South Africa

Much more sensible than running is sitting in an old-fashioned double-decker tram as it trundles through the South African wine country and stops at regular intervals to let you explore the vineyards. This is a safe and leisurely way of wine tasting, with transfers from Cape Town to the tram stop and back, leaving you without worries about drinking and driving. This is a hop-on, hop-off tram, so you can either move on to the next wine estate or stop for longer at one with a good restaurant for lunch.

Pro Tip: There are several tram routes taking in various vineyards, so it pays to do your research before you start sampling.

3. Submarine Wine Tasting, San Francisco

Yes, it is a bit of a gimmick, but this is about unusual places and ways to sample wines. And the Sottomarino Winery, which arranges tastings in an old United States Navy training submarine on Treasure Island near San Francisco, is about as unusual as it gets. Sottomarino means “submarine” in Italian, and the wines are grown from Italian varieties in California. Treasure Island, a man-made island built in the 1930s for the Golden Gate International Exposition, offers lovely views of the skyline of San Francisco and makes for a nice day out.

Pro Tip: Learn more about the island at the Treasure Island Museum before heading back to the city. 

4. Royal Wine Cellar, France

Built in the 18th century for King Louis XV’s wine steward, this cellar next to the Louvre is a historic, unique, and very appropriate setting for a wine tasting. It’s a complete sensory experience! Learn about French wines on a guided or self-guided tour, at a private wine tasting, or at a dinner with wine pairings in one of the underground rooms. You’ll even meet the resident oenologist.

Pro Tip: Once you have learned some and tasted some, why not hunt down a few of the hidden vineyards in Paris to round out your experience? 

5. Underwater Winery, Croatia 

Located roughly an hour north of Dubrovnik on the stunning coast of Croatia, you’ll find a wine cellar that’s truly different. Underground we are used to, but underwater? Edivo Vina stores its bottles, sealed in amphorae, at the bottom of the Adriatic, and, if so inclined, you can don scuba gear and dive down to pick up your bottle. There is even a sunken ship nearby. Reportedly the even temperatures and quiet underwater benefit the wine — you can see for yourself when on dry land again.

Pro Tip: You can also book a private wine tour on the peninsula and be safely dropped off at your hotel at the end of the day.

Whales of grapes under snow in winter. Grapes are covered with snow
Photo Credit: Evgeniy Goncharov photo / Shutterstock.com

6. Ice Wine, Canada

Originally from Germany and Austria, ice wine is a sweet riesling or vidal blanc wine product. It’s called ice wine because the grapes are left on the vines until after winter and are allowed to freeze, making them much sweeter. The Ice House Winery in Niagara-on-the-Lake is one of many vineyards in Ontario, but it’s the only one that produces ice wine, even selling ice wine slushies. Sounds perfect for a summer day, doesn’t it?

Pro Tip: This winery is a couple of miles from Niagara Falls you can decide if the falls or the wine is the main attraction. 

7. Wine And Chocolate, Australia

Hahndorf, just inland of Adelaide in South Australia, is a quaint old German settlement that transports you to Bavaria, complete with southern German architecture, restaurants, and events. It’s a good spot for a day out, and you can add to the fun by booking a wine and chocolate pairing at the Hahndorf Hill Winery. At this perfect event for both chocoholics and wine connoisseurs, you’ll get to sample not just local wines, but also Australian and French chocolates made from Australian-grown cocoa beans.

It’s great fun spending the day meandering through little Hahndorf, shopping for local goodies like their superb honey, and then relaxing over some chocolate and wine before heading to a local restaurant for a good German sausage.

Pro Tip: Hahndorf is the gateway to the lovely Fleurieu Peninsula and a mere 15 miles from Kangaroo Island, a must-visit in the state.

8. Vineyard Cycling Tour, Italy

Umbria, a province in the heart of Italy located roughly halfway between Florence and Rome, is studded with vineyards and wineries. The region is best explored by bicycle. Umbria by Bike offers various cycling itineraries, but the Montefalco Vineyards tour is hands-down the most cultured. You’ll cycle around 60 miles through five main wine regions, stopping at each to sample the goods. Running between March and November, the tour is appropriate for beginner cyclists, with the paths mostly on asphalt. There are various bikes available for hire, even electric ones to make life a little easier. 

Pro Tip: This is a round-trip tour starting and finishing in Montefalco, so why not book yourself a room at the delightful Orto degli Angeli, a palazzo with a gorgeous garden and four-poster beds. It’s the perfect place at which to relax after a day out on a bike. 

A girl picks grapes in Portugal Algarve
Photo Credit: Sergio Sergo / Shutterstock.com

9. Residential Wine Resort, Portugal

If buying a château in France to run your own wine estate is a little out of reach, you can always buy a vacation home in the Algarve in Portugal to have a go at running your own vineyard. The Vines is a new concept of turnkey properties set in vineyards. Together with your vacation home, and within sight of it, you can own or rent your very own private vineyard and start producing your personal label. Local experts are on hand to teach you all you need.

Pro Tip: The Vines is located along the Algarve Wine Route on the southern edge of Portugal. It makes for a perfect road trip, meandering between beaches and coastal towns and select wineries. 

10. South Pacific Tasting, Tahiti

A vineyard on a South Sea island? Yes — on the Rangiroa Atoll, more than 3,000 miles away from any mainland, there is a vineyard. Vin de Tahiti was started by a Frenchman in the 1990s and now produces some 3,000 cases of wine from two or three harvests each year. It’s a 55-minute flight from Tahiti itself, so getting to the vineyard takes dedication, but this is a truly special wine experience. Rangiroa is also a top location for scuba diving, for beaches, and for an idyllic getaway literally thousands of miles away from civilization.

Pro Tip: This distant region of the world lends itself perfectly to cruising, which will allow you to discover more than just one island while you are there. Choices range from straightforward cruises to Paul Gaugin-inspired tours to budget-friendly boat trips.

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Hungary and Iceland are embracing ‘immunity passports.’ Why isn’t the rest of the world?

(CNN) — With miles of barbed wire and electric fencing along its border and open government hostility to migrants, Hungary’s borders aren’t always the friendliest place for foreigners.

That’s during normal times. Amid the pandemic, Hungary has shut its doors to almost everyone, even its European neighbors.

Unless, they’ve had Covid-19.

It’s not the place you’d expect to find such a novel exception to otherwise tough entry rules.

The policy, which came into force in early September, opens the door to visitors who can provide evidence that they’ve recovered from Covid-19 — proof of both a positive and negative test in the past six months.

Iceland has plans for a similar policy beginning next week — and it already gives citizens who have previously been infected permission to ignore the nationwide mask mandate.

Experts call these types of policies a kind of “immunity passport.” But does beating the virus actually give you immunity? The evidence so far suggests that for most people, it does.

“It’s certainly theoretically possible that some people even who have antibodies may not be protected,” Dr. Ania Wajnberg tells CNN outside her lab at Mount Sinai Hospital’s Icahn School of Medicine in New York.

“But I think the majority of people that test positive for antibodies will be protected for some time.”

Reopening society

Hungary hasn't disclosed any outcomes of its Covid border strategy.

Hungary hasn’t disclosed any outcomes of its Covid border strategy.

Orsi Ajpek/Getty Images

Wajnberg is leading a massive study of more than 30,000 people who had mild to moderate cases of Covid-19. Her latest research published in October found that more than 90% of people have enough antibodies to kill the virus for many months after infection, perhaps longer.

So the risk that someone entering Hungary under this policy could get re-infected, or infect others, is low, she says. Though the science hasn’t entirely been settled on how long immunity does last for, there have only been a handful of documented cases of reinfection.

“This may be a reasonable way to begin to reopen society and allow for travel and business,” she says.

Iceland’s chief epidemiologist Thorolfur Gudnason has reached the same conclusion based on his country’s own data, and studies from abroad.

“I think it’s pretty safe. I mean, everything that we do has uncertainties with it. Nothing is 100%,” he told CNN.

The testing and quarantine exemption at the border begins December 10. The North Atlantic tourist magnet will accept documented proof of a positive polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test that is at least 14 days old, or enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) test that measures antibody levels — provided it’s issued by an approved European lab.

Thorolfur says Icelanders who have beat the virus are also exempt from the nationwide mask mandate with a letter from their doctor — though he says most people wear them anyways because of social stigma. He’s never heard of anyone intentionally getting infected, especially with a vaccine coming soon.

“That is possible. But on the other hand, I think it’s also unfair to people who have had the infection. Why should they not be allowed to travel freely?” he said. “I think it’s a question of justice, basically. If you have the medical condition that you are not spreading or having the virus, you’re not a risk to the environment, then you should be sort of recognized for that.”

Covid spike risk

Iceland is allowing quarantine-free entry to people who can prove they've had Covid.

Iceland is allowing quarantine-free entry to people who can prove they’ve had Covid.


Iceland is also in talks with the other Nordic countries — Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Norway — so that people with that exemption can travel freely without restrictions. Though Thorolfur says the talks haven’t gone far — and he doesn’t expect any other countries to follow Iceland’s lead.

Thorolfur was unaware of Hungary’s policy.

The central European country has had virtually nothing to say about the success or failure of its unique exemption, what science it’s based on, and how it weighed the pros and cons.

The Hungarian government declined interview requests and sent only a statement describing the policy itself. Many of the experts approached by CNN were unaware it was in place. It hasn’t been widely discussed even inside Hungary.

The World Health Organization (WHO) advised against immunity passports in April. “There is currently no evidence that people who have recovered from Covid-19 and have antibodies are protected from a second infection,” read its scientific brief.

On Thursday, the WHO confirmed it has not changed its position, but, Regional Advisor Dr. Siddhartha Sankar Datta said it was looking to help countries implement electronic vaccination certificates. Other experts have also raised concerns about immunity passports.

“I think the worst-case scenario is that you see a spike in cases that happens because people are incentivized to try to get Covid to demonstrate immunity,” Carmel Shachar, a Harvard University bioethics and health law expert, tells CNN.

“So, all of a sudden, you’d see people not wearing masks, not respecting social distancing, because they want to get Covid. Especially if more and more countries adopted a similar scheme.”

Experts in several leading medical journals have also warned that immunity passports could incentivize otherwise healthy people to willfully seek out infection.

It’s unclear if anyone has actually become infected on purpose in order to enter Hungary, but University of Oxford ethicist Rebecca Brown finds it hard to believe.

“It would be quite an extreme thing to do. And I think, in all likelihood, the vast majority of people wouldn’t,” she says, explaining that Covid-19 can come with long-term effects even in some young, healthy people.

‘A bad idea’

Hungary has closed its borders to most of Europe.

Hungary has closed its borders to most of Europe.

Orsi Ajpek/Getty Images

Shachar also argues that “immunity passports” could potentially reward reckless people who become infected after ignoring Covid rules or erode medical privacy.

“The more information that you require to be put out there the more normalized it is to intrude on people’s privacy,” she argues.

Harvard bioethicist Natalie Kofler is blunt in her opposition to immunity passports. “It’s a bad idea,” she says.

Kofler says they could exacerbate existing inequalities.

“If you’ve had [the virus] before, it’s not like a vaccine from an ethical standpoint. That’s because you’ve had to be healthy enough, privileged enough to get the healthcare that you might have needed, and rich enough to get the testing that you might have needed to have survived the virus,” she says.

Oxford’s Brown wrote a paper examining the pros and cons of immunity passports, that ultimately argues that the potential benefits outweigh the drawbacks.

“Lots of people who are concerned about immunity passports haven’t really made many suggestions about how we might resolve the difficulties and they don’t look insurmountable. It looks like there are ways that we can address the kinds of problems that could arise,” she says.

‘Positive benefit’

Aviation body IATA wants to introduce vaccination passports to open borders.

Aviation body IATA wants to introduce vaccination passports to open borders.

STR/AFP via Getty Images

Immunity passports may come back into fashion once there is a vaccine. The International Air Transport Association, which represents hundreds of airlines, is pushing for a secure, digital “travel pass” for passengers to show proof they’ve been vaccinated, once a shot is available.

The CEO of the Australian airline Qantas, Alan Joyce, has already suggested that in the future, passengers will have to prove they’ve been vaccinated in order to board.

Brown argues that those who have recovered from the virus should be treated the same as those who have had the vaccine. Even skeptical Shachar is cautiously open to the idea.

“There’s actually a positive benefit to treating them the same. We don’t want to waste vaccine dosages, it’ll be a while before we have enough vaccines for absolutely every human on the planet,” she says.

Asked if those who have recovered from the virus should be placed at the back of the vaccine line Wajnberg says it’s a good idea in theory. In practice, she says it would require the same accurate, high-quality ELISA tests she uses in her lab, to be rolled out on a massive scale.

“It might make sense… not to vaccinate the people with very high levels of antibodies already, but I think that will be very challenging operationally.”

Neil Bennett, Christian Streib, Oscar Featherstone Bálint Bárdi, David Allbritton and Adrian Divirgilio contributed to this report

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5 unique golf courses around the world you can travel to

Malaysia has much to offer golfers. Many courses here often make their way into annual “best of” lists, with enthusiasts commending their high quality green and beautiful driving ranges.

In Kuala Lumpur alone, there are over 40 golf courses available. For some venues, one would need to be invited by a club member or stay at an associated hotel before they can play there.

But while Malaysia is a top golfing destination, it’s also worth travelling abroad to experience other courses. More than just the chance to play at different courses, a “golf holiday” also lets you explore new destinations.

With so many breathtaking courses all over the world, it can be difficult to choose where to go. A tip is to narrow down the location according to your budget, as well as the kind of weather you’d like to play in.

If you’re dreaming of a golf holiday, here are some unique courses around the world to tee off.

Extreme 19th at Legend Golf & Safari Resort, South Africa

The iconic Extreme 19th at Legend Golf & Safari Resort located in Limpopo, South Africa, is famed for its world’s longest and highest Par 3 hole.

Treat yourself to an astonishing view – miles of African savannah stretching as far as the eye can see – when you play here. The tee shot is accessible only by helicopter and is 400m high on Hanglip Mountain.

Look out for the patch of greenery shaped like the African continent at the course.

Apart from being in the middle of a wildlife preserve, the venue is known for its “world-in-one” Signature Course where each of the 18 holes is designed by a different golfing legend.

Camp Bonifas, Between North and South Korea

Dare to play golf in a war zone? Touted as “the most dangerous course on the planet”, the Camp Bonifas course is located in the Korean Demilitarised Zone, which is on the border of North and South Korea.

   Dubbed the ‘most dangerous golf course in the world’, Camp Bonifas is located in the Korean Demilitarised Zone. — EDWARD N. JOHNSON/US ArmyDubbed the ‘most dangerous golf course in the world’, Camp Bonifas is located in the Korean Demilitarised Zone. — EDWARD N. JOHNSON/US Army

This single-hole course sits beside one of the most fortified borders in the world. The green is surrounded on three sides by live minefields!

This Par 3 hole is said to be challenging as the green is hard as a rock.

Uummannaq, Greenland

Hate the heat? Then consider playing on a giant iceberg. Located about 800km north of the Arctic Circle, Uummannaq in Greenland hosts the World Ice Golf Cham-pionships, where people all around the world come to play below freezing temperatures. The rules are pretty much the same as your standard game of golf, except that the holes are a little shorter, the cups are larger, and everything is frozen.

Although seal dens and crevasses are potential hazards, the biggest threat is frostbite, which players are taught how to spot before they tee off.

Himalayan Golf Club, Nepal

Few courses around the world give that “wow factor” like the Himalayan Golf Club. Located 7km away from Pokhara, Nepal, the course is situated in a vast canyon created by melted snow from the Bijayapur river.

Golfers here get a spectacular view of the Fishtail and Annapurna mountain ranges. The venue is home to the only natural river island hole in the world. Don’t be surprised to find wild cattle and buffaloes roaming freely while playing.

Arikikapakapa Rotorua Golf Club, New Zealand

The geographical layout of the Arikikapakapa Rotorua Golf Club is a favourite feature among many golfers across the globe.

   The Rotorua Golf Club was built around the Arikikapakapa reserve in Whakarewarewa, an active geothermal area in New Zealand. — Rotorua Golf Club websiteThe Rotorua Golf Club was built around the Arikikapakapa reserve in Whakarewarewa, an active geothermal area in New Zealand. — Rotorua Golf Club website

This unique 18-hole thermal golf course is located in the middle of a sulfur and brimstone thermal zone.

There are hot geothermal lakes, bubbling thermal mud pools, creeks with warm water running through and a geyser erupting every so often in the distance, making a golf game here a truly incomparable experience.

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