Wine

5 Cheap Travel Destinations for Wine Lovers

For those who like to swirl, sniff, and sip their way around the world, a tour of one of the world’s great wine destinations can be a dream vacation. Staying at a winery is a fantastic experience and many vineyard restaurants around the world offer fresh, farm-to-table style dining, prepared by expert chefs in breathtaking locations. While some of these locations can be outrageously expensive, there are wonderful international wine destinations that you can experience on a budget. (See also: 7 No-Fuss U.S. Wine Destinations)

1. Salta, Argentina

While Argentina’s Uco Valley and Luján de Cuyo, both near Mendoza, are world renowned, they can be pricey. Farther north, the wine region around Cafayate in Salta province offers great value for wine lovers.

Among the 10,000 acres dedicated to vineyards, some wineries (bodegas) offer free tours and tastings. But you really don’t need to spend a lot of money on a rental car or private driver to take you out to wineries, because there are plenty right in the town of Cafayate. This means that you can walk from tasting to tasting without having to get behind the wheel. Any trip should also include a visit to a fantastic wine bar in town called Bad Brothers Wine Experience, which has affordable tapas and wines.

If you do choose to head out to some of the nearby vineyards, I recommend visiting Piattelli Vineyards, which is about a five-minute drive from Cafayate town. When I was there in 2017, tours started at 100 Argentine pesos, or about $6.50. Another favorite is Bodega El Esteco, where a tasting was 155 Argentine pesos, or $10 during my visit. This bodega also has a fabulous hotel called Patios de Cafayate, where you can stay in a historic building right on the vineyard — a truly memorable experience for those who love all things wine.

2. The Okanagan Valley, Canada

You may not have considered visiting your neighbor to the north for an excellent glass of wine, but British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley is famous for producing tasty merlot, cabernet sauvignon, pinot noir, pinot gris, and chardonnay. Thanks to the strong U.S. dollar, travel within this region and other parts of Canada is cheaper than it has been in previous years.

Vineyards in the region are set along the breathtaking, 84-mile long Okanagan Lake, and many of the restaurants at the wineries have beautiful views over the water.

The best way to visit the wineries is to get a group of people together and share the cost of a private vehicle. You can rent a 10-passenger stretch limousine for $79 an hour and take it on a self-guided wine tour. You can usually visit three to four wineries in a five-hour half-day tour that would cost $395. If you split the cost among 10 people, your transport would cost less than $40 a person.

But it’s not always easy to get together 10 friends when you’re traveling, so you can also book affordable wine tours starting at $90 per person. Another option is to rent a car in Kelowna, the main town in the region, for around $25 a day, and drive yourself out to the wineries. Just make sure you don’t overdo it on the tastings!

Whether you go in a limo or in a rental car, you can cut costs by visiting wineries that offer low-cost tours and tastings, usually running $2–$7. Often these fees are waived with the purchase of…

One Beer An Hour is Our Rule of Thumb for Drinking. It is Dead Wrong.

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“Officer, I only had two beers.”

In the United States, the rule of thumb for how our body processes alcohol is cemented into our brains. Saddle up to the bar and ask any random patron, and you are sure to get the reply: “one drink an hour.” One drink is understood as one beer, one glass of wine, or one shot.

Unfortunately, this rule of thumb is completely misguided. Why? There has been a dramatic shift in how Americans consume beer. The “one beer an hour” rule of thumb is based on drinking a bottle of Bud–12 ounces of a 5% alcohol by volume (ABV) beer.

Credit: Getty Images
Credit: Getty Images

What Has Changed?

The beer we are consuming is getting stronger, and it is often delivered as a 16-ounce American pint as opposed to a 12-ounce bottle. We are often consuming beer from pints at a brewery or brewpub, which are at their highest point since 1870.

While we often overlook the pint-versus-bottle distinction, three pints is the same quantity as four bottles–a major difference that adds up. The rise of craft brewing, which has doubled its share of the US beer market in recent years, has brought with it a major uptick in the strength of beers. Our rule of thumb, however, has not adjusted.

How much has beer strength changed? A lot. While our definition of a standard beer has been 5% ABV, a 2014 study by consumer research group Mintel found that the average craft beer is 5.9 ABV. In 2014, one out of four new beers launched were 6.5 ABV of higher. The number of beers that were higher than…

Readers bugged by wine-spoiling stinkbugs

Stinkbugs accidentally harvested with grapes and fermented during the winemaking process release a pungent stress compound. It takes only three stinkbugs per grape cluster to ruin red wine’s taste, Elizabeth S. Eaton reported in “Red wine has stinkbug threshold” (SN: 3/18/17, p. 5).

“Does contamination of wine by the bugs’ stress compound pose any health risk to consumers?” asked Hal Heaton. “And does someone really count the number of stinkbugs on each of the huge number of grape bunches picked?”

The hormone emitted by stressed stinkbugs, (E)-2-decenal, is also found in cilantro, says Elizabeth Tomasino, a food scientist at Oregon State University in Corvallis who did the research. “It is actually found at much higher concentrations in cilantro than in wine and is not a health risk,” Tomasino says.

As for counting stinkbugs, there are people who count bugs on the vines, but not by bunch as the researchers did. “What typically occurs is that someone will put a sheet under a plant and beat the leaves to see how many fall out,” Tomasino says. Another approach involves walking through the vineyard and counting as many bugs as possible in three-minute increments, she says.

Troubled waters

Science journalist Dan Egan’s book, The Death and Life of the Great Lakes, chronicles the impacts of global trade, urbanization and climate change on the lakes and communities that depend on them. Invasive species, including zebra and quagga mussels, have been particularly damaging, Cassie Martin wrote in her review “Invaders, climate change threaten Great Lakes” (SN: 3/18/17, p. 30).

A translucent crab discovered nearly 20 years ago has finally been identified as a distinct species. Researchers dubbed…

Why is Trader Joe’s Wine Cheaper Than Bottled Water?

More than one secret lurks in the aisles of Trader Joe’s, the trendy, organic-loving grocery franchise that was spawned from a chain of convenience stores in the 1950s. Shoppers have tried to guess whether their store brand mac and cheese is actually made by a major food label going incognito. (Verdict: No one’s really sure, but the mac does taste a lot like Annie’s.) Managers are called “captains” instead of managers because founder Joe Coulombe really liked the oceanic motif.

But the biggest mystery of Trader Joe’s may be in their liquor section, where their store-endorsed line of Charles Shaw wine sells for as little as $1.99 a bottle in some markets.

How can wine cost as much or less than an equal quantity of bottled water? More than just getting slightly tipsy, will you go blind? Will it work in your car’s carburetor?

To understand how Charles Shaw sells wine for pocket change, it helps to know who Charles Shaw is—and why he has absolutely nothing to do with this story.

According to Thrillist, Shaw used his wife’s money to buy 20 acres of Napa Valley land to start a winery in 1974. Business was brisk, and Shaw knew his high-end wine from grape juice. The Charles Shaw label came to represent quality among wine aficionados, and his business grew to include 115 acres by the late 1980s.

Unfortunately, Shaw’s business acumen was not always as refined as his palate. A mistake…

Why is Trader Joe’s Wine Cheaper Than Bottled Water?

More than one secret lurks in the aisles of Trader Joe’s, the trendy, organic-loving grocery franchise that was spawned from a chain of convenience stores in the 1950s. Shoppers have tried to guess whether their store brand mac and cheese is actually made by a major food label going incognito. (Verdict: No one’s really sure, but the mac does taste a lot like Annie’s.) Managers are called “captains” instead of managers because founder Joe Coulombe really liked the oceanic motif.

But the biggest mystery of Trader Joe’s may be in their liquor section, where their store-endorsed line of Charles Shaw wine sells for as little as $1.99 a bottle in some markets.

How can wine cost as much or less than an equal quantity of bottled water? More than just getting slightly tipsy, will you go blind? Will it work in your car’s carburetor?

To understand how Charles Shaw sells wine for pocket change, it helps to know who Charles Shaw is—and why he has absolutely nothing to do with this story.

According to Thrillist, Shaw used his wife’s money to buy 20 acres of Napa Valley land to start a winery in 1974. Business was brisk, and Shaw knew his high-end wine from grape juice. The Charles Shaw label came to represent quality among wine aficionados, and his business grew to include 115 acres by the late 1980s.

Unfortunately, Shaw’s business acumen was not always as refined as his palate. A mistake…