New Zealand has a history of wine that dates back centuries – with Jesuit priests making sacramental wine creating the catalyst for what has become one of the main attractions for tourists travelling down under.
Drawn by world class wines and some of the world’s most stunning natural landscapes, wine tasting in New Zealand is big business with over 700 wineries scattered across the North and South Islands of the country. While the country’s largest wine growing region, Marlborough, can be found in the South Island, most of the revered New Zealand wine tasting estates are spread across several influential districts in the North Island – including Hawke’s Bay, Gisborne and several towns surrounding Auckland.
Wine tasting New Zealand style often involves a tour of the vineyards and cellar, which can be accompanied by an expert guide to explain the region’s characteristics and the wine making process. Tours of smaller boutique wineries are often led by the wine makers themselves, while all experiences of wine tasting in New Zealand obviously include the opportunity to sample some of the country’s premium wines – sometimes paired with local cuisine.
At Wine Paths, our local experts can organise exclusive New Zealand wine tasting tours of the country’s most renowned estates – including elaborate tastings, luxury accommodations, fine dining experiences and exciting outdoor activities. All of our private wine tasting NZ tours can be tailormade to meet your exact requirements, ensuring ever detail is taken care of so that you can relax and enjoy the matter at hand – tasting wonderful wines surrounded by jaw-dropping scenery.
New Zealand’s wine growing success can be attributed to a maritime climate – none of the country’s vineyards are further than 80 miles from the ocean – plentiful sunshine and evenings cooled by sea breezes. These conditions combine to produce a diverse range of wines with distinctive purity, vibrancy and intensity and a fine balance between flavour and intensity.
Wine tasting in New Zealand will also bring you across several red grape styles of which Pinot Noir is the most popular. Styles vary across the country but most Pinot Noirs from New Zealand are noted for their balance and berry fruit flavours of black cherry or strawberries. The best examples can be found in Marlborough, Central Otago and Martinborough.
Understanding the different styles during a New Zealand wine tasting tour can be a daunting prospect, especially for beginners, so we have created an overview of the country’s most popular wines and where to find them.
Sauvignon Blanc is the country’s signature grape and, since it makes up over 70% of the total production, you can expect to sample some of the finest examples during any New Zealand wine tasting experience. When tasting Sauvignon Blanc, the freshness of flavours is immediately apparent even for an untrained palate. New Zealand varietals are renowned for their ripe fruit flavours, especially gooseberries and pink grapefruit, with a hint of spice in the tartness.
Chardonnay is another white grape variety in New Zealand, which is beginning to move out of the shadows of the more illustrious Sauvignon Blanc. Most Chardonnays come from Marlborough, Hawke’s Bay and Gisborne and have been compared to the full-bodied styles of Old World wines – with aged flavours that make it ideal for accompanying food.
Wine tasting in New Zealand will also bring you across several red grape styles of which Pinot Noir is the most popular. Styles vary across the country but most Pinot Noirs from New Zealand are noted for their balance and berry fruit flavours of black cherry or strawberries. The best examples can be found in Marlborough, Central Otago and Martinborough. Red Bordeaux-style blends made from Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot flourish in the warmer, humid climate of the North Island. When taking a wine tasting NZ tour, look out for the elegant and fresh flavours with rich, textured tannins and black cherry aromas.
Australia’s favourite, Shiraz (also known as Syrah), has been edging into New Zealand wine tasting lists, especially in the warmer climes of the North Island where they show savoury peppery flavours with juicy hints of plum and violet.
Contact Wine Paths for more inspiration before planning a wine tasting New Zealand tour and sampling some of the southern hemisphere’s finest wines.
If you're interested in one of our New Zealand Wine Tours, please visit this link.
Get all our exclusive travel inspiration and tour packages straight to your inbox!