Some people collect stamps. Some collect magnets from places they’ve visited. We collect wine. The best part? We also drink it, which not only helps us relive some of our travels but also keeps us from accumulating more knickknacks and other things that are bound to take up too much weight or break easily when we move.
We are by no means wine snobs, or any kind of experts: we began to learn a lot about Balkan wine and loved the idea of visiting the wineries from which our favorite bottles came. In this way, we began to explore and understand more of the area, which brought us in contact with its people and also gave us consumable souvenirs. In this lifestyle, I feel like we’re always trying to purge the stuff we have, so collecting wine — which, for better or worse, will have to be consumed before we go back to the States (sadly, the State Department will not pay to ship wine as part of an employee’s household effects).
As a result, we now have quite the collection of wine, often from places we’ve visited ourselves. This makes the whole act of drinking wine so much more fun, as drinking a bottle from a particular winery will remind us of visit specifically and the trip that took us there more generally. Sometimes we don’t make it to the actual winery but may pick up a bottle or two at a wine bar or store. Since this, too, has memories associated with it, opening up the bottle months or years later still results in a rich experience.
In early November, we drove an hour and a half to a town outside of Lille, France for a wine fair. We had attended the same fair last spring and enjoyed it so much we marked our calendar for the fall edition. Unlike some other wine events, this fair is no-nonsense and all about the wine: it takes place in a drafty warehouse and brings together 300 small wineries from all around France. For the most part, the guys selling the wine and explaining it are the ones out in the field working the grapes and visitors get the feeling of being really connected to the winemaking process, despite not physically being at an actual winery.
We recently opened up a bottle from one of our trips in the Balkans and it was fun to think about how the wine had changed as we reminisced, thinking back on the trip during which we acquired the bottle.
Wine tourism is by no means our only way of exploring, but living just a stone’s throw from many of the great wine regions in France, for example, made us realize how silly it would be not to take advantage of our current location! Who knows, we could next be somewhere without good wine like… Uzbekistan! But really.
Do you ever plan travel around something specific like wine? Comment below!