When I was in my twenties, I never would have considered taking a guided tour of… well… anyplace. That was something old people did… like bringing giant umbrellas to the beach.
Now that I’m in my… uh… non-twenties… I have a different perspective. When visiting a country for the first time, especially if there’s a language barrier, I actually enjoy being driven from place to place, and being told what the highlights are rather than finding them for myself. I haven’t lost my sense of exploration, but I don’t mind being given a little direction.
(And since I did way too much unprotected tanning on the beaches of Southern California in my youth, that big umbrella is just part of a skin-protecting regimen my dermatologist now insists upon.)
This all came to mind the other day when information about two wine tours crossed my desk. Both take place in October, one in France and the other in Italy. Neither is “cheap,” but one does seem to offer greater value than the other. Check out the details, and decide for yourself…
1. Burgundy Grand Cru Tour — Oct. 20-24. Highlights include:
• Four nights in a junior suite at the 4-star Hotel Le Cep in Beaune.
• Tasting of all 32 Grand Crus of Burgundy, including Romanée-Conti and La Tache.
• VIP tours and tastings at the region’s finest wine estates.
• Two wine-tasting lunches with Grand Cru wines.
• Three gastronomic dinners with Grand Cru and premium wines, including one meal at Michelin 3-star restaurant Bernard Loiseau.
• Deluxe air-conditioned motor coach transportation.
• The services of an English-speaking wine expert guide (a Burgundy specialist) throughout the tour.
The price per person, double occupancy, is $6,900. For more information, contact Pascale Bernasse, President of the French Wine Explorers, at [email protected] or 877-261-1500.
2. Sentieri Italiani Food and Wine Tour of Piemonte — Oct. 18-31.
Spend time in the Monferrato hills discovering castles and palaces, art, history, wine and food. Monferrato is characterized by the softness and integrity of a landscape that turns into an enchanting hue of red in autumn. Highlights of the tour include:
• Transfers from and to Malpensa Airport.
• Thirteen nights in 4-star hotels.
• Breakfast daily.
• Seven additional meals.
• Private coach.
• Five wine and food tastings.
• Guided tours.
• Entrance fee to Il Salone Del Gusto.
The price per person, double occupancy, is $2,950, and for single accommodations it’s $3,450. For further information, call 773-275-5325 or email [email protected]
So, which tour offers the better value? Well, I know what I think… but it also depends on where you want to go and what kind of wine you want to taste. Ultimately, value is like art: It’s all in the eye of the beholder.