With the 2023 Rugby World Cup kicking off this week in France, we couldn’t help but notice that many of the participating nations are home to fantastic wine or spirit producers. So, we thought this would be an excellent opportunity to take a closer look at the countries that will be battling it out for the Webb Ellis Trophy!
The Pumas, the Argentinian team, kick off their campaign on 9 September against England. They’ll be looking to emulate their performance from the last time the World Cup was in France, having finished in third place in 2007. Argentina is known for producing Malbec-based wines, the grapes for which grow in Mendoza against the backdrop of the beautiful Andes mountains. The deep red wines are jam packed full of black fruits, chocolate, and sweet spice aromas. Some of our favourite producers to look out for are Catena Zapata, Cheval des Andes, and El Enemigo.
This will be the fifth time that the Wallabies have been in the same pool as Wales in the World Cup. The matches between these two are often nail-baiters, and it’ll likely be no different this year when the teams meet on 24 September. Australia has been home to grape vines for over two centuries and some of the world’s oldest vines can be found there. The diverse regions are spread across the country with the greatest concentration of vineyards found in the southeast, including stand-out appellations in Hunter Valley, Barossa and Clare Valley, as well as Margot River in the south of the country. On iDealwine’s website, you’ll find plenty of Penfolds, Tyrrell’s, and Henschke. And if you didn’t already know, iDealwine has just started shipping to the Land Down Under.
This will be the first time that Chile has ever competed at a Rugby World Cup. They had to play other teams from the Americas to qualify for a spot, which they secured after beating the USA – another wine-producing nation – 52-51 on aggregate. Unlike their rugby team, Chilean wine producers have long been high up on the wine world rankings. They make beautiful blends from Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Carménère grapes. The latter is actually a native of Bordeaux, but it has found its new home here in South America where it shines. Vina Sena and Almaviva are two Chilian producers you can find within the iDealwine shop and if you want a wine with Carménère from its homeland, there are the blends from Château Brane-Cantenac, which replanted the variety in its vineyards in 2007.
Winners of the World Cup 20 years ago, England will play two games in the South of France (Marseille and Nice) and two games in Lille. Wine production has been on the rise in this country in recent years, with the majority of the vineyards located in the South East. English sparkling wines made from the Champagne varieties of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier has boomed in recent years, with some Champagne producers themselves crafting bubbles here as well. While English wine has yet to convince iDealwine’s purchasing team to add them to the squad, two whiskies from the London-based Bimber Distillery certainly have, and you can find them on the website.
The host nation. Matches are taking place in nine cities across the country, with each of the 20 teams based in a different town or city where they can train and easily get to their matches via train. Les Bleus, the French team, will be staying in Rueil-Malmaison, just outside of Paris, during the competition. When it comes to French wine, what can we say? The second largest wine producer in the world is separated into 12 regions with the South-West being where most of the best rugby teams are based. There’s Toulouse, Bayonne and Pau, to name but a few. If you were going to opt to try wines from the home of rugby in France, we could recommend those from Mas Del Périé, Château Montus and Domaine Arretxea.
The Georgian rugby team has been on the rise over the last decade and has been vying for a spot in the Six Nations rugby tournament for a few years now. It doesn’t seem like that will happen soon, but the team will hope to cause a bit of an upset at this year’s World Cup, their sixth time at the competition. Georgia is considered as one of the birthplaces of wine (historians are unsure where exactly vinification first took place, but Georgia is a strong contender) and it’s also where orange wine originates from. This is wine made from white grapes using methods that are more commonly used to make red wine. After being pressed, the juice is left to macerate with the grape skins which in turn impart colour to the wine. Just like its rugby team, Georgian wine has yet to convince iDealwine that it should join the lineup, but there are some orange wines from other countries available.
Ireland currently tops the World Rugby men’s rankings – not a bad place to be heading into the competition. They take on the winners of the 2019 World Cup, South Africa, on 23 September in the Stade de France. This will definitely be a match to watch. You might be thinking “Hang on a minute; Ireland doesn’t produce wine?” but that is actually untrue, as the country does produce a tiny amount. However, we are here to talk to you about Irish whiskey. There is evidence that whiskey production in Ireland dates back to the start of the 15th century, with its Irish name, uisce beatha, meaning ‘water of life’. Four types of whiskey are produced in the country: single malt, single grain, single pot still and blends. As the luck of the Irish would have it, there are several bottles of uisce beatha on iDealwine.
Italy competed in the very first Rugby World Cup in 1987 held in Australia and New Zealand. This time around, they are in the same pool as New Zealand, something that has happened six times now, and France. They will start their campaign with a match against Namibia on Saturday 9 September. When it comes to wine, Italy leads the world as the number one producer by volume of this beautiful nectar. It is home to some wonderful grape varieties – we’re thinking Nebbiolo, Sangiovese, and Cortese, to name but a few – as well as iconic producers and biodynamic stars. Among them, we can count Frank Cornelissen, Roagna, Rinaldi, and Emidio Pepe.
The hosts of the last Rugby World Cup line up in a pool with England, Argentina, Chili and Samoa. In 2015, the Brave Blossoms created what was perhaps the competition’s greatest surprise, when they beat South Africa in Brighton. Japan has produced some talented winemakers as well as rugby players and several of them have set up base in France, such as Kenjiro Kagami at Domaine des Miroirs. Japan also has a brilliant reputation for its whiskies, which regularly appear in Fine Spirits Auctions. Stand-out names such as Nikka, Suntory and Karuizawa feature frequently. We couldn’t move on to the next country without mentioning sake, a rice-based fermented drink. This Japanese beverage – by the way, beverage is what sake means in English– comes in three different styles and can be found on iDealwine.
The All Blacks kick off their World Cup against France in the Stade de France. The three-time winners are the most successful team at the Rugby World Cup and became the first team to achieve back-to-back victories in 2011 and 2015. Much like its rugby team, New Zealand’s wine is at the top of its game. Its Sauvignon Blancs, Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs are known throughout the world. The North and South Islands produce slightly different styles of the country’s star variety, Sauvignon Blanc. It grows in the Marlborough region, which is the largest in New Zealand, along with Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Another region that produces fantastic, full-bodied Pinot Noir is Central Otago, located in the centre of South Island.
Portugal are making their second World Cup appearance in the same country where they made their first back in 2007. They will play their first match of the competition on 16 September against Wales in Nice. Much stronger at making wine than playing rugby, Portugal is home to the greatest number of native grape varieties in the world. Its most well-known export is quite possible its fortified Port wines, whose grapes grow in the Douro region before being transported to Villa Nova de Gaia. Villa Nova de Gaia sits on the opposite bank of the Douro River to Porto, the city which gives the wine its name. The Douro region also produces non-fortified wines. Other regions to look out for include Vinho Verde and Dão. But that’s not all, Portugal is also the world’s largest producer of cork, providing the final seal for our beloved bottles of wine.
The Scottish rugby team currently sit in 5th place in the Men’s Rugby World Rankings, the highest position they’ve ever held. This World Cup, they are in what has been named the ‘Pool of Death’ with South Africa, Ireland, Tonga and Romania. With three teams from the top 5 of the world rankings in the pool, Scotland will be hoping that their current form can get them through to the quarter finals. Moving on to the beverages produced in Scotland, not one of them is quite as famous as its legendary whisky. It is produced in five regions, all of which tend to produce different styles. Speyside whiskies are fruity, Lowland ones are soft and smooth, and Islay whiskies are intense and peaty, while Campbeltown and Highland whiskies are quite diverse and can be saline or sweet and floral. Examples of these can regularly be found on iDealwine at fixed prices or at auction on Fine Spirits Auctions.
The current champions are one of only two teams to have won the World Cup on three occasions (New Zealand being the other). South Africa even won the Webb Ellis trophy on their Rugby World Cup debut back in 1995 when they were also hosts. This time around, the Springboks will start their campaign with a match against Scotland on Sunday 10 September. Just like its rugby team, South African wines are champions. Its Chenin Blancs are jam packed full of fruit flavours like apple, pear and white peach as well as spice and nuts. Its leading red variety, Pinotage, can come in a range of styles from light and fruity to full-bodied with spice and forest fruit aromas. Some of iDealwine’s favourite producers include Kanonkop, The Sadie Family and Glenelly Estate.
Wales start their World Cup on 10 September with a match against Fiji. The team is based in Versailles during the competition where they arrived earlier this week. At a welcoming ceremony at the town hall, fly-half Dan Biggar put the French he’s learnt since joining Toulon to good use, delivering a speech in French to thank the city for its warm welcome. While some of you might be questioning why we have included Wales in this article, quality wine is produced in the country. iDealwine’s translator for the English website, Jessica, even grew up 10 miles (or 16km) away from a vineyard. Given the northernly latitude, varieties best suited to cool climates such as Gewurztraminer, Chardonnay, and Pinot Noir as well as lesser-known varieties are planted in the Land of Song. The harvested grapes go on to produce white, red, rosé and sparkling wines.
Given the number of countries producing wine and spirits at this year’s Rugby World Cup, you could have your own matches while watching the games. How will a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc line up against a French one? How do Irish whiskeys compare to Scottish ones? What about a match between Australia’s reds and those from Portugal? Or you could simply enjoy a lovely glass of something as you cheer your team on. All that’s left to say is, enjoy the 2023 Rugby World cup!