By: Bryan Herb- Zoomvacations
I was recently in Oregon visiting my family, and one of the main things I wanted to do while there was go wine tasting. I have never realized why I like it so much, and every single time I go home to Oregon I never miss wine tasting. Now that I’m traveling around the world I find myself constantly wine tasting in the different destinations that Zoom Vacations visits. Wine tasting is just that, tasting. So, the overall amount actually consumed is modest and the experience revolves around the community it helps you create. In fact, I have been partaking in tastings of all kinds of things in various countries. I have loved cheese tasting in Amsterdam, dumpling tasting in China, tequila tasting in Mexico, olive tasting in Italy, chocolate tasting in Belgium, and even insect tasting in Cambodia. You read that right, and for the record, I like the taste of black ant eggs better than red ant eggs…. but I’m not rushing out to dine on either any time soon.
The real head-explosion came when I was on safari in Kruger Park at our incredible South African safari lodge. I was sitting on the deck of the lodge doing a little wine and cheese tasting of South African wines and French cheeses, and an elephant and its baby arrived on the scene and began grazing about 20 yards in front of me. It was definitely one of those moments in life that felt completely perfect.
Back to my recent trip to Oregon where my brother and I did quite a bit of wine tasting, it was then where I realized why I love this activity so much. This time, my little sister was with us, and we were howling with laughter as she overtly flirted with the guy pouring us wine. He told us all about the tasting notes as we tried to taste the various things within the wine. Black cherries? Coffee? Vanilla? Oak? Tobacco? Pie dough? Yeah, even pie dough.
But what was most interesting was that suddenly we were talking about things far beyond wine. Our wine pourer told us all about his recent tumultuous break up, and that led us all into sharing stories about our worst dates, and then somehow that let us on to talking about various hiking one can do in the area around us. My brother kept saying, “this is the best day,” and I agreed.
Every time I partake in a tasting around the world, it is just always fun, and it always leads us to fun conversation and connection with those doing the tasting with us. If you are with a group of people, these experiences give you something kind of interesting to talk about. It is fascinating to hear how one person can like one wine and another person hates it and likes something different. For a lot of us who love travel because we enjoy things that are different and we appreciate diversity, you really see it when you are food and wine tasting with your buds. Also if you are at a really good place, it becomes a whole cultural and sometimes historical experience as well, as the wine/cheese/chocolate/etc. maker tells you all about the grapes, produce, and other products in the region. You will likely learn the history behind these things, including how societal norms, immigration, natural events, wars, etc. at the time influenced what you are tasting.
For me, tastings of all kinds are often a part of my travels, because one of the things that I love the most about traveling is how multi-sensory it can be. I am definitely that guy who takes hundreds of photos a day and wants to try everything that I see. I want to photograph it, feel it, hear it, taste it, and smell it. Even in Egypt, we bring our tour group to a place where we smell various essential oils such as jasmine and one called “Cleopatra” which quite honestly I have no idea what is inside it, but they claim it was the scent that Cleopatra wore, so of course I had to buy it!. The more multi-sensory experience is, the more rich and interesting and even memorable it becomes.
After a trip, I love it when I am back home and I smell, hear, or taste something that reminds me of where I just was. Instantly I am mentally transported back to my trip and how I felt when I was actually having the experience. The memories linked to our senses are strong! I still remember the wine tasting in Morocco, maybe because I don’t always associate wine with Morocco, which has excellent wines, by the way, but probably mostly because the food that accompanied the wine tasting was the most delicious lunch extravaganza to accompany the wines. Plus our Moroccan wine expert was very handsome and debonair with a very French flair, so that helped.
The next time you’re traveling with a group of friends, I highly recommend you incorporate some sort of tasting or even as in the case of our Egypt trip a “smelling”. It’s a great icebreaker and a fantastic way to experience and learn more about the destination and the people with you. It will give you much to talk about with your friends, and will solidify memories that will last far beyond the trip.