Something wonderful is happening.
As a new generation of oenophiles makes wine and cities -- two of the world's oldest institutions -- their own, the two are blending in both ways and places most unexpected. I wrote two years ago of the trend in urban wineries as I tasted through the textures of winemaking in American downtowns diverse as New Bedford, Kansas City, Nashville, and Brooklyn. From the barrel to the tasting bar, wonderful and varied wine cultures are evolving in many of the world's great cities.
These wineries, wine bars, and restaurants with excellent glass and bottle lists are often reflective of the local culture surrounding them, and -- when such regions exist -- of the wine made in the countryside beyond the next mountain. I can think of few other ways to connect more deeply and learn more thoroughly about a place than to do so in the company one keeps with a glass of wine in hand. I take it as part of my thesis for 2018, that the world needs wine now more than ever.
Further reading: Why the world needs wine in 2018, more than ever
The vibrancy of these local wine communities have given rise to one of my most dependable travel habits: When visiting a new city, seek out the wine.
I generally begin with Google, often benefitting from wine lovers who have come before me to document the local oenological terrain. Yelp is a compelling tool in the United States and many other cities, though I've lately (and particularly in Europe) been reaching more for FourSquare (remember them?).
Ultimately I'm seeking to triangulate expert opinion and community sentiment in a search for places that offer intimate physical spaces characteristic of the local aesthetic, obsessive devotion to particular genres or wine making regions, and a community of locals and visitors alike. It's just not good enough to find a wine bar. I'm looking for places like Vinarna Bokovka in Prague or Gaston Vinbar in Stockholm, whose people are confident in their own wine adventure and the identity that particular adventure has embraced.
Further reading: Vinarna Bokovka is the very best of Prague's excellent wine scene
I scratched the surface of this (and went further) in my recent piece diving into Madrid's world class wine, food, history, and energy. In the coming months I'll investigate and share what I've found in the wine scene animating Prague, Budapest, Stockholm, Washington, and others. I'd love to know the cities in which you're finding thriving cultures around beautiful wine. Please share!