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Wine tasting doesn’t have to be a standardized experience, and if you’re tired of measured pours, stiff barstools and condescending sommeliers, you don’t have to settle for them anymore. Combine your love of travel and wine and have a little fun with these one-of-a-kind experiences.
1. Fight With Wine in Haro, Spain
Every year between June 27 and June 30 in a village in northern Spain’s Rioja region, thousands head up to a hilltop and drench each other with red wine, all while sipping it, of course. If you’ve ever dreamed of Super Soakers or firehoses filled with wine, La Batalla del Vino is definitely your cup of tea — or glass of wine. In any case, prepare to get drenched, and likely drunk. Don’t forget to wear white clothes and bring goggles. A word of advice: Run from the older crowd. They might look harmless, but it’s the Grandma-and-Grandpa set that will dump bucket after bucket of vino on you. If you can’t make it all the way to Spain, there’s a version of the famous festival in St. Augustine, Florida, that takes place each October and includes a wine tasting and, of course, an epic wine fight.
2. Bathe in Wine in Japan
You can soak in a pool of red wine — or in pools of coffee, green tea, sake or ramen — at the Yunessun Spa Resort in Hakone, Japan. Although the pool is actually filled to the brim with real red wine — the Japanese famously adore Beaujolais Nouveau, after all — it’s probably not a good idea to drink any of it directly from the pool. Still, you can take part in daily wine rituals, where you can get wine poured on you. Note that while children are allowed in the pools, people with visible tattoos are not.
3. Bike Through Wine Country
Wine bike tours let you enjoy not only the wine itself but the local culture and gorgeous landscapes as you tour beautiful countrysides by bike. In Argentina, the Mendoza Wine Bike Tour takes you through the Lujan de Cuyo and Valle de Uco, allowing you to bask in sunshine while sampling Malbec varietals. We Bike Tuscany Tours takes you through the beautiful Chianti wine region in Italy, where you can sample local wines as you ride past ancient farmhouses, olive groves, vineyards and medieval villages. To the north, Vienna Explorer opens up the Wachau Valley on the Danube as you pedal past Austrian villages and visit century-old terraced vineyards, all while learning about — and sipping — the good stuff.
4. Sip Wine With Sharks in South Africa
Adrenaline junkies can cage dive with great white sharks off the island of Dyer in South Africa with Sideways Tours — and calm down after all that with a visit to a rustic wine cellar for a relaxing post-shark lunch and flight of South African wines from the Bot River region.
5. Segue to Wineries by Segway
You may feel like an idiot riding around on a Segway, but they’re actually really fun, allow you to cover a lot of ground and are available in North America, Europe and Africa. They can be especially useful when visiting the redwood forests and vineyards of northern California, for instance, if you’re on a tour with Segway of Healdsburg, where each has room for two bottles to take with you, so you can stock up before you get on. Spier Vineyards in South Africa offers Segway tours that let you ride out among the vines, while Dynamic Solutions has Segway tours that take you through the Penedes region of Spain.
6. Saddle Up and Sip by Horseback in Oregon
There’s really no better way to see the rolling hills of Oregon wine country than by horseback. Hop on a docile Tennessee Walker through the Dundee wine region, then sample the best vino with Equestrian Wine Tours.
7. Dive to an Undersea Winery in Croatia
Diving enthusiasts can combine their love of water and wine by visiting the “cellar” of Edivo Vina, where Croatian red wines are aged in jugs submerged in the Adriatic for three months. There, they’re protected from the seawater by cork and rubber — the jugs are also locked in cages to fend off rogue divers and pirates. Endivo Vino believes that keeping its wine underwater provides the perfect conditions for it. Those taking the diving tour of the sea cellar can even spot a sunken ship. And not to worry if you aren’t PADI-certified — you can still visit the section of the winery that’s located on dry land.
What have been your craziest wine-related travel experiences? Tell us about them, below.
Featured image by Justin Sullivan / Getty Images.
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