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Five Faves: Private Label – Five reasons to toast MSC Cruises’ wine-blending program.

Porthole’s Five Faves

Private Label

Five reasons to toast MSC Cruises’ wine-blending program

There’s never a shortage of wine on a cruise ship, but imagine getting a Napa Valley or Sonoma experience of both wine tasting and blending right on board. That was our experience on a recent sailing aboard MSC Divina when my sister and I attended the line’s wine-blending class hosted by Greg Abrahamson, one of the ship’s wine blenders.

The Winemaker Experience is an intimate gathering, with just a few tables for four set up in a semi-private area of the ship closest to the wine bar. Besides the obvious, here are five more reasons this experience was a highlight of our cruise.

Wine drinkers are fun people so the class is an instant icebreaker for meeting fellow wine enthusiasts. It’s another memory to take home from the cruise but a bit more intimate since you’re all there for a common purpose … to drink wine! We thoroughly enjoyed our tablemates: a nurse from Fort Myers whose wine-fueled travels are enviable and a German living in Switzerland who’d attended the previous class.

The process is unforgettable and truly educational. One look at the placemat under the four wine glasses and you’ll see a spot to name your wine, plus percentage signs, milliliter counts, and plenty of places to take notes. MSC Wine Place SettingIt’s obvious you’re leaving here with some knowledge of how the wine-blending pros do it.

Tasting new varietals was a plus and we were truly able to swish and savor the four red wines, which were merlot, tempranillo, cabernet sauvignon, and malbec. Tempranillo was new to me and turned out to be one of my favorites. In fact, my final blend included mostly tempranillo.

The class fuels your creativity. We all knew we were taking a complimentary bottle of our personalized blend home and naturally needed to give our wine a name. I named mine “Literary Vintages,” all the while envisioning a stroll through rows and rows of grapes growing on the vine.

It was great to receive tips as we blended our wine. Greg was helpful in advising how to break down the percentages from first blending to final in order to arrive at our favorite blend of wines. And when he delivered our personalized labeled bottle to our cabin later, we felt like VIPs.

MSC Cruises’ wine-blending classes are set to begin year-round on MSC Divina in November.

— Josie Gulliksen 

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