Wine tasting evokes visions of vineyards splayed across rolling hills, Provencal fields of lavender, tiny Tuscan villages perched atop craggy summits, and sun-drenched wineries with picturesque views of grape-laden vines. But while these images are part and parcel of the wine-tasting oeuvre, committed oenophiles are discovering that exceptional wine experiences can also be found in less traditional spots. 

Winemakers are increasingly turning to unconventional venues when it comes to providing unique and unforgettable experiences. From underground spots in the middle of the city to small corners of historic landmarks, these alternative destinations are a great way to mix up your wine-tasting adventures and savor the flavors of the grape in new and different ways. 

So whether you are exploring new places on a vacation with a cruise deal or just looking for a new experience in your hometown, here are a few ideas for an unexpected wine tasting. 

Underground Wine Cellars

While the traditional image of wine tasting comes with rolling hills dappled with sunlight and blue skys studded with clouds, some of the best wine tastings actually happen underground, in the subterranean cellars where the barrels and vats are kept cool. For an even more unusual experience, seek out wine tastings in historic catacombs or ancient caverns, like the Labrynth of Budapest or the port cellars of Porto. 

Rooftop Wine Bars

For the complete opposite experience, head up and enjoy wine with a view! Rooftop bars are a wonderful way to see the skyline of the city and escape the crowds, and many wine bars or tasting events make their way up to the sky these days. From New York to Bangkok, rooftop winebars are increasingly popular and a delightful way to indulge in your favorite grapes. 

Historic Landmarks

Sipping old vintages in even older surroundings creates a wonderful sense of ambiance and appropriateness, which makes a wine tasting in a historic landmark a superb choice. From the chateaux of the Loire or the stately mansions in the Surrey Hills to hilltop forts in Tuscany, these iconic buildings make a delightfully unique backdrop against which to try a few new wines. 

Art Galleries and Museums

If you really want a non-mainstream wine tasting experience then look for events or happenings organized by wineries or wine makers that take place in museums or galleries. Many cultural institutions partner with vignerons to offer wine tastings as part of their after-hours programming, allowing oenophile visitors to combine a love of culture with a love of wine. From contemporary galleries to classical museums, the experience is elegant, sophisticated, and unusual, a combination of two of the predominant pillars of high culture. 

Coastal Vineyards

Heading to the coast, whether a salty, windswept fishing town in Connecticut or a sun-drenched beach in California, offers some wonderful opportunities for al fresco wine tasting. Coastal vineyards offer stunning views over the ocean, as well as being a refreshing change from the more traditional wine regions. Wine grown on the coast often has intriguing and unique properties, making this a great way to take your palate to new places, while enjoying a somewhat different experience. From the gloriously rugged coastline of Sicily to the remarkable island vineyards of Vis and Hvar in Croatia, coastal vineyards are truly special and a great way to spice up your tasting plans. 

From beneath the city streets to high above the skyline, in historic buildings or overlooking the ocean, trying tasting experiences in different places adds a fresh new dimension to your love of wine. So the next time you are planning an excursion, why not think outside the box, avoid the classic wine destinations, and try something exciting and new?