London. Paris. New York City. Some travel destinations will always be considered classics. Cultural icons, they boast access to many of the finer things of life. That list certainly includes wine, and those culinary capitals offer plenty of it.
But what if you enjoy the thrill of a new discovery, or the road less traveled? We’re here for you, too.
We’ve crisscrossed the globe to highlight up-and-coming cities worth a spot on your travel radar. If exploration and enjoyment are your goal, you won’t miss a beat with these exciting locales.
São Paulo, Brazil
Rio may be the capital of Caipirinhas, but São Paulo dominates Brazil’s budding wine scene.
“São Paulo is unique,” says Fabiana Bracco, an export manager for wineries in neighboring Uruguay including her own brand, Bracco Bosca. “It has several new wine bars and high-end restaurants with excellent wine lists.”
To her latter point, São Paulo has established a reputation for embracing graduates from training programs like the Association of Brazilian Sommeliers (ABS) and the Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET).
But growth isn’t just at the top. Bars and casual restaurants have entered the wine game, too. Smart digs that offer sips by the glass include Bocca Nera, Bardega Wine Bar and Rubi Wine Bar. Jardim dos Vinhos Vivos, a French school that offers wine lessons and guided tastings, also serves occasional chef-driven pairings in the lovely rear garden. A rash of retail-bar hybrids have also sprung up, like Enoteca Decanter São Paulo, owned by Brazilian wine importer Decanter.
While recent political and financial tumult exacted a toll on Brazil’s economy, wine imports have increased both in value and volume. What does this mean for consumers? More and better wines from Chile, Portugal, Spain, Uruguay and the U.S., all offered alongside classic regions, domestic reds and bubbles. —Lauren Mowery
New Delhi, India
A major tourist destination thanks to its monuments and cuisine, New Delhi also offers an unexpected foray into wine culture. The sommeliers in top hotels and restaurants are knowledgeable, enthusiastic and highly trained. And, perhaps unlike other emerging wine destinations, quality crystal stemware is the norm.
While wine regulations in India are complex, and many casual spots don’t have a license to serve the beverage, restaurants within international or luxury hotels as well as fine-dining destinations will impress with expansive offerings and diverse cellars. Indian bottlings produced in Nashik and Nandi Hills, especially Shiraz, Chenin Blanc and Sauvignon Blanc, are some of the best and most authentic options, and often come at a more accessible price point due to the high tariffs that are placed on wine imports. Look for wines from Sula Vineyards, Vallonné Vineyards, Grover Zampa Vineyards, York Winery and Chandon India.
One of the best spots to find regional cuisine is the ITC Maurya hotel, which hides behind high walls in Chanakyapuri, an affluent neighborhood that’s also considered the city’s embassy district. Five restaurants, a tea lounge and an elegant wood-paneled bar offer a variety of tempting options, which includes two of India’s top eateries, Bukhara and Dum Pukht. Also, the Food Sherpa Street Food Trail tour is not to be missed.
Lagos has taken center stage as one of Africa’s most vibrant and stylish cities. Widely popular for its cacophony, hustle and theatrics, its burgeoning middle class and returnee population have made it a hotbed for luxury, gastronomy and entertainment.
According to a 2017 report published by market research group Euromonitor, Nigeria is among the world’s top five consumers of Champagne, with the fastest growing rate of Champagne consumption. A report suggests the demand for still wine is also on the rise, as sales values increased about 115% between 2011 and 2016. Much of the country’s wine consumption takes place in Lagos, Nigeria’s largest city.
The Winehouse has been one of the city’s major hangouts for wine lovers. Part living quarters and part wine cellar/lounge, the venue serves finger food and an assortment of pours. Live music and entertainment, frequently featuring local talent, are another reason to check it out.
The Lagos wine scene also boasts several social clubs and organizations. The Wine Club Lagos, a large wine-tasting and social club, offers relaxed tasting opportunities, classes and seminars.
And as much as Lagosians love to party, they also love to eat. High-end restaurants like Noir Lagos, in the heart of Victoria Island, craft cuisine to match an array of French and other international wines. —Wana Udobang
Johannesburg, South Africa
Many travelers view Johannesburg as a gateway to Cape Town and safaris. South Africa produces some of the world’s most exciting wines, so it’s logical to think that its largest city would have a strong wine market. It does, though its population’s diverse tastes differ from those in Cape Town. The Gauteng/Joburg market accounts for nearly 65% of the country’s fine wine sales. This translates into emerging wine offerings that are catching up with Johannesburg’s vibrant dining scene.
Opportunities to taste South African wines are scattered across the City of Gold’s sprawling suburbs. One of the more considerable wine bars, Craighall Park’s Ace + Pearl, stocks classics and up-and-comers. The Nine Barrels in Maboneng, is designed to reflect a chic-industrial aesthetic. It lists domestic and international labels, as does The Landmark. Le Wine Chambre and Bolton Road Collection are also good spots with broad selections. In Bryanston, LBV pairs eclectic producers with seasonal South African food, while Marble nabbed top sommelier Wikus Human for its wine program. And the Joburg Wine Club debuted last year with an aim to entice city dwellers to get out and about in wine country. Lots of exciting momentum, indeed. —L.M.
San Miguel de Allende, Mexico
Perhaps you’ve encountered Mexican wine in a restaurant or read an article that touted Valle de Guadalupe as the next Napa. To be sure, Mexico’s budding wine industry is no longer mere novelty. The country’s robust reds and rich whites have started to head to U.S. shelves. They’ve also spread to distant corners at home that include the picturesque city of San Miguel de Allende, named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2008. It boasts an emerging culinary scene, replete with domestic sips and vistas for days.
A hilly town dense with magical views, San Miguel de Allende’s architecture draws heavily from the Spanish Baroque era. Aesthetics and a thriving art industry have long lured both tourists and American expats to the city’s cobblestone streets. Catch a sunset from rooftop bar Luna at the Rosewood San Miguel. Upscale Vinos + Tapas dishes pretty bites alongside Mexican labels. Though Italian in cuisine, restaurant Cent’anni sports a global list. Other notable spots: celebrated chef Enrique Olvera’s Moxi in Hotel Matilda and newcomer Licorería Capricho. Need a break from the city? Head to wine country in Guanajuato, just 20 minutes from downtown. —L.M.
While it’s technically a country, Luxembourg’s population of around 600,000 makes it smaller than many cities. But what makes this landlocked landscape thrilling is the excellent wine it produces, something few outsiders know. A swath of the tiny country occupies the end of the Moselle Valley, made famous for Riesling from its neighbor, Germany. It’s an important commercial attraction and a key experience for visitors. The Moselle Valley’s steep hillside vineyards and wide, meandering river inspire awe. Grapes grown include Riesling, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir. The country’s sparkling wine has gained popularity with bubbles like Luxembourg Crémant now integral to production.
There’s much to taste at surrounding wineries and nibble on in country taverns, but devote time to the capital, Luxembourg City, for more fine wine and food. From outdoor cafés and bistros to 12 Michelin-starred restaurants, most spots offer a selection of local and regional wines. La Rameaudière and Am Tiirmschen are two to find. The old city was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994 for its elegant architecture and historic monuments. The trendy area of Les Rives de Clausen is a popular draw for locals and visitors for its lively ambiance. —L.M.
Last Updated: May 4, 2023