Grape Expectations

Grape Expectations
Couple drinking wine at ship's rail

Grape Expectations

A toast to cruise lines raising the bar on wine offerings

By Lynn and Cele Seldon

When it comes to enjoying wine at sea, cruise lines are continually enhancing their offerings — both on board and on shore — making it a major part of cruising for wine lovers.

Years ago, wine at sea often meant perusing a short wine list at a ship’s restaurant or bar and then ordering a glass or a bottle from the limited selection. Today, the addition of improved selections, sommeliers, tastings, blending programs, and wine-focused dinners and shore excursions have given cruising oenophiles plenty of reasons to raise a glass.

The Gist of Better Lists

Wine lists are better than ever when it comes to the number and variety of options, and many lines take pride in offering special wines on their lists. For example, veteran cruisers might be surprised at the oenophile-oriented offerings aboard Carnival Cruise Line ships.

“We taste thousands of wines every year in an effort to offer some of the best wines available to our guests,” says Eddie Allen, vice president of beverage operations for the line.

Allen recommends two of his favorites for Carnival guests: Grgich Hills Chardonnay and Cherry Tart Pinot Noir. When dining in one of the line’s premium steakhouses, he orders a Heitz Cabernet with his favorite cut, the ribeye. Allen also recommends trying the Enomatic wine dispensers aboard Carnival Vista, Carnival Breeze, and Carnival Sunshine, as well as Kathie Lee Gifford’s three popular Gifft wines (Red Blend, Chardonnay, and Pinot Noir Rosé), produced in consultation with California-based Scheid Family Wines.

Disney Cruise Line isn’t kidding around when it comes to its wine lists, either. Remy, the gourmet French restaurant aboard Disney Fantasy and Disney Dream, actually features two wine lists: one with nearly 200 selections of mostly French wines from nearly every region in the country, and one called “Remy’s Vault,” which is an exclusive list of less than two dozen rare wines from around the world (including a ’47 Cheval Blanc and a ’61 Latour). In Palo, the line’s upscale Italian-inspired restaurant, the wine list is almost exclusively Italian and features a wide selection of Super Tuscans.

When a cruise line has Italian roots, wine lovers should expect vino excellence. Costa Cruises’ popular “Italy’s Finest” program brings iconic Italian food and beverage brands on board, including Italian wines. Ferrari brand wines are featured on all Costa ships, with the famed Ferrari label from northern Italy’s Trentino region in bars and restaurants.

Costa neoRomantica and Costa Diadema offer Enoteca Verona and Enoteca Gran Duca di Toscana wine bars, respectively. Enoteca is Italian for “wine repository” and… .


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Photo: Norwegian Cruise Line