Red, Red wine, go to my head!

Well, not so much, but it seems that this is going to be a very winey (but hopefully not whiney) trip. The quality is good to excellent, the cellar master knows, as far as I can tell (I know just enough to be dangerous) her stuff, and she’s encouraging the wine stewards (on land, we’d call them sommeliers) to learn and increase their skills.

The wine tastings are scheduled for our days at sea, I guess to get more people out for them. The purpose is two fold – educate the guests so they know what they’re getting, but also, of course, to sell wine. Today’s tasting was both about pairing food and wine, but also to give a taste of their package choices to the guests. Since we’d already chosen our package and were happy with it, we went to learn.

We had four wines to taste: two reds, the Bourdeaux from our package, and a 2011 Wente Beyer Ranch Zinfandel from the premium Admiral package and two whites, the one from the Navigator package, a 2014 Piedra Negra Torrontes from Argentina (where the cellar master is from) and a 2012 Grace Lane Columbia Valley Washington State Riesling. All very nice on the palate. But the real secret for us was learning more about pairing wines with food, and here’s where Cecilia shone, because she gave really good general tips.

The Torrontes and the Bourdeaux were from the package we chose, and we’d already tasted the Bourdeaux, but I’ll include the notes here anyway.

A very nice, fruity slightly flowery white.

A very nice, fruity slightly flowery white.


The 2014 Piedra Negra Torrontes, from Agentina. It’s a clear, bright pale straw – almost no colour, really. You have to look hard to see the pale yellow tinge to it. I thought I smelled roses, which the Cellar Master described as floral, so there we go. My nose is recovering! <g> There are flowery notes as well as some hints of lime in the taste, it’s got a longis finish and a bitter aftertaste, which is apparently typical of the Torrontes. We both liked it and we both want to have it again. It works with ginger and shusi type dishes, so Chinese and Asian food that stress ginger would work with it. It also works well with strawberry.

Sweetish, good with Asian spicy food.

Sweetish, good with Asian spicy food.

The Riesling was also pale, but not as washed out as the Torrontes. It was sweetish, not dry, and had an alkaline/citrisy taste to it. It works with spicy Asian food, and didn’t work with the cheeses as well, especially the cheddar.


The Bourdeaux was a medium ruby with pepper tastes, high tannins (it really needs to breathe some amount before drinking), and is moderately strong in the tannins. It didn’t register as very acidic. Cecilia recommended it to go with high protein foods, like steaks and roasts, but it didn’t do too well with the prime rib I had the other night – so maybe with steak. (Note on arriving home – I bought this wine a few years ago as a guest gift when I had dinner at a friend’s house, and loved it, but didn’t remember the name. I remembered it because of the label, which is how I remember most wines. So glad I’ve found it again and can now track it down here at home!)

wente beyer zinfan

The Zinfandel was a pale red – I’d have called it a ruby shading toward garnet, with peppery, leathery and dark smoky notes on the nose. It’s a bit flowery on the tongue and Cecilia noted it’s not as jammy as most Zinfandels. It has a soft, peppery, spicy flavour with moderate to light tannins. Light to medium bodied, which I don’t usually like, but this was nice. It didn’t work with cheddar at all, but should work with fish and duck, we were told.

A nice experience all round, making me glad we have a cellar master who knows what she’s doing – these wines are much better than the one we had on our very first cruise – I don’t remember even what it was, other than a red, but harsh and acidic and really high tannins. So definitely an improvement here!

We didn’t sit by ourselves, but I’ll save the commentary on the rest of the day and our tasting mates until tomorrow.


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