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Culinary tours -- learning about the foods of other cultures and the fun of shopping for, cooking, and tasting them, too -- are bringing foodies and people who just like to eat to gastronomic destinations around the globe. Wine tasting tours are especially popular in much of Europe, Chile, and South Africa.
A culinary tour is a fabulous way to discover a country. Food is such an integral part of culture, from all sorts of fascinating aspects including economics, politics, trade, and family dynamics just to name a few. A culinary tour will introduce you to many different flavors, spices, flavor combinations, and cooking styles. It’s important to be open to all tastes, and even if you don’t think you’ll enjoy a particular dish, try it anyway!
Consider where you want to go and what sort of culinary experience you are looking for. Regional cuisine? Local restaurants? Do you have dietary restrictions? Italy might not be the best choice for the gluten-free, but consider Argentina, Morocco, or Thailand instead. Vegetarians might try a garden focused tour. From organic to biodynamic, the world of farm to table is a vegetarians dream.
Thailand in particular is well known as a foodie destination, with some of the best street food in the entire world. If street food makes you wary, Thailand is a place to give it a shot. While western standards of food safety are less prevelant, there's less chance you'll get sick if you take a tour. The best Thailand tours will spend a good amount of time exploring the cuisine of the country.
Europe has grown by leaps and bounds in culinary tourism, with up and coming destinations beginning to shine next to their more famous counterparts in Italy, Spain, and Greece just to name a few.
Consider Switzerland - land of chocolate and cheese! Switzerland trips almsot always include a food component. Somehow the pristine Alpine beauty becomes that much more beautiful when paired with delicious treats.
Eastern Europe certainly didn't used to be known for it's incredible cuisine - the region had somewhat more serious things going on during the time when Western Europe experienced the first major travel boom of recent years. But today, this region is thriving and the cuisine has elevated from the common peasant dishes feature meat and potatoes (though those are still good too!)
Consider the Czech Republic for some truly tasty treats and of course the beer!
The world of wine tasting has become much more popular among a wider demographic over the past several years. Unfortunately this also means there are some who still treat the activity as a bar experience rather than what it actually is. Exercising proper wine tasting etiquette is important for not only enhancing your experience, but the experience of those around you.
First, it is not taboo to not finish a taste if you don’t want to. There should always be spit buckets provided for this purpose, and it is not offensive to use them. Pour out what you don’t want to finish and have your glass ready for the next pour.
Second, the tasting bar is NOT a bar in the traditional sense. It is an opportunity to taste wines, discuss wines, discover new varietals, and enjoy your group’s company. Will you get slightly buzzed? Most likely, and that’s ok. But it is not an environment in which this is the goal. And plus, you can visit more wineries and experience more if you pace yourself!
Your tasting room attendant is a wealth of information! They love answering questions and talking about wine, but also are the perfect people to ask for recommendations on restaurants or other activities nearby.