Enhancing the Wine Cruise Experience

Sponsored by Crystal Cruises

From fetcher to teacher to taste tester, the average wine sommelier carries out a variety of important duties. Most important, however, is ensuring your wine experience is spectacular thanks to the little touches.

With an onboard sommelier, your cruise becomes more than a vacation, it’s a chance to learn something new, expand your palate and go home with a few new tricks up your sleeve for the next wine and cheese party!

How a Sommelier Can Enhance Your Wine Tasting

A master sommelier is responsible for ensuring that all beverages compliment the meals with which they’re paired. Not only should the wine match the food being served, it should also appeal to the drinker.

Instead of forcing an unwanted type of wine down an individual’s throat, the sommelier must abide by the unique tastes of that particular wine enthusiast. The best sommeliers provide gentle guidance, informing wine drinkers of the beverages they’re most likely to enjoy, and, if asked, providing detailed background information about the production of these various types of wine.

Imagine how much more fabulous your wine cruise would be with someone helping to expand your palate with knowledge and guidance based on your preferences!

Required Training for Sommeliers

Anybody can claim to be a wine expert, especially after a day of tasting, but in order to deliver on that, sommeliers spend years learning about and sampling a variety of wines and other alcoholic beverages.

Some training can be obtained at traditional culinary schools, but typically, wine sommeliers gain certification by taking the courses offered through various wine guilds and associations, including the Court of Master Sommeliers, the Wine & Spirit Education Trust and the International Wine & Spirits Guild. These courses allow aspiring sommeliers to taste a variety of wines, all the while receiving instruction from some of the world’s finest wine masters.

Many sommelier hopefuls combine their wine tasting classes with practical experience in the industry. Typically, this involves working with the wait staff at upscale restaurants, where wine is carefully paired with a variety of five star meals.

Over time, aspiring sommeliers working in restaurants learn which pairings are the most likely to satisfy customers. They also grow comfortable with the underrated art of serving wine, which is an essential skill for any master sommelier.

A sommelier can truly be called an expert after he or she has worked extensively in the restaurant industry, taken several courses from wine masters and tasted wine produced by a wide array of vineyards. Ideally, this professional will continue to build knowledge by maintaining memberships with several prominent guilds and industry organizations.

Regional Wines

Top wines vary from one region to the next; the right sommelier can ensure that you’ll have a chance to sample the highlights of each locale you visit.

Following are a few top wine-producing regions and their most popular beverages, which you might enjoy during a wine cruise vacation:

As North America’s top wine destination, Napa is known for its Cabernet Sauvignon, which is only rivaled by the Cabernet from Bordeaux. Napa also produces excellent Merlot, Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc.

A diverse array of wines are produced in an around Tuscany, including excellent varieties of Chianti and Vernaccia di San Gimignano. Tuscany is also credited with some of the world’s finest dessert wines, including, of course, the delectable Tuscan Vin Santo.

Although Italy attracts a multitude of wine tourists, the nation is an even better destination for sparkling wine drinkers, who constantly sing the praises of the Champagne and Prosecco produced in the Veneto region. Although Prosecco (the prominent drink of the region) is typically regarded as a less expensive alternative to Champagne, it is every bit as delicious.

The largest wine-growing region of France, Bordeaux produces some of the world’s most prestigious varieties. The vast majority of Bordeaux wine is red, so this region and its alcoholic beverages are not necessarily ideal for white wine devotees. Favored grapes for winemaking in Bordeaux include Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.

Wine tourists once assumed that their visits would be largely limited to Europe and California, but this has all changed in the last fifteen years. Now, Mendoza, Argentina is a top wine producer. Vineyards in Mendoza are planted at incredibly high altitudes, giving the ensuing wine a unique flavor. Malbec is by far the region’s top wine, but the area’s Chardonnay and Tempranillo are also worth sampling.

Sommeliers hold extensive knowledge about the unique wines produced in the aforementioned regions. The next time you incorporate wine into your vacation, look to a sommelier to enhance the experience!

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