A really good wine gives you a taste of where it was produced and a real sense of place and character.Imagine how much greater your appreciation of that wine would be if you could experience your favourite wine region first hand.There are several wine tasting holiday packages available that whisk you through the terroir on a lightning-fast air-conditioned tour bus. That doesn't really give you the time to appreciate the wine at all, let alone absorb the atmosphere of the region, its people, its customs and the local food.

Far better are the more intimate active holidays that give the space and time to walk through a wine region, drinking in the scenery and sampling the local food as well as tasting the wines. This approach is nowhere better rewarded than in Chile. It's said that when God finished making the world, he put all the bits he had left over - mountains, lakes, spectacular waterfalls, deserts, glaciers - into Chile. It is one of the world's great producers of wines and the ideal location for walking holidays as you don't have to walk very far to experience dramatic changes in scenery and climate.

Chile was never affected by the 19th century phylloxera epidemic which cut swathes through European vineyards. As a result, it kept its precious old growth vines introduced by the Spanish in the 16th century.There's a greater variety in soils and climates in the relatively short distance from east to west than there is north to south. The character of a Chilean wine is therefore mainly influenced by its proximity to the Andes or the Pacific rather than the terroir's distance north or south in the country.

Chile Holidays will introduce you to a superb range of wine and Chilean cuisine, famed for the diversity of its seafood thanks to 4,270 km of coastline. Typical mainland Chilean dishes include Empanada de Pino, a type of pastie filled with diced meat, onions, olives, raisins and hard-boiled egg. Curanto en Hoyo is a typical dish from the south of Chile prepared by heating fish, seafood, potatoes, meat and bread over red hot rocks then wrapping in big leaves and burying in the ground so that it slowly cooks over a number of hours.

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