Wine Cruise

Grape Destinations: Impressing a Date on a Wine Cruise

There is nothing quite as exciting as a European river cruise where passengers get to see beautiful vineyards and  taste a range of gorgeous wines but for men who know nothing about wine, this can be a nerve-racking experience especially if the cruise itself was booked to impress a special someone. According to Scott Washburn, a writer for Winestyr, there are over 10,000 varieties of grapes used for winemaking but this shouldn’t be a cause for worry because there are only five types of wine you should learn about for a wine cruise. This includes red, white, sparkling, dessert, and rosé.

Experience a Wine Cruise

A week-long wine cruise down the River Rhone involves touring local cities and town in the mornings and tasting different kinds of wine in the afternoons. Apart from tasting local wines, there are also winemakers’ dinners and educational tours on the grape-growing process and wine tasting techniques. You would basically be surrounded by lots of wine and lots of wine enthusiasts. To prepare for this life-changing trip, you would need to study the following.

Red, Red Wine

Wine Cruise

Don’t be scared of picking the right red

Reds come in various forms, according to Wine Folly. There are sweet reds such as your regular bulk wines, Recioto della Valpolicella, Occhio di Permice, and Freisa. Herbal dry reds come in a range of types too. You have those that leave a taste of smoke, tobacco, or leather while others have a hint of truffles such as soft herbal reds like Bourgogne and Dolcetto. While this seems a little too much, you would need to learn how to order reds, or any type of wine for that matter, to impress your date. Fruity reds that offer hints of black cherries, blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, cranberries or raspberries are also a good choice. Fruity reds include Pinot Noir, Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec, and many more.

Reds pair well with red meat. To be on the safe side, order a steak and pair it with a nice Cabernet Sauvignon or a Syrah. You can also pair it with a Merlot or a Zinfandel. If you happen to like red wine but love white meat, you can pair your white meat with a light red such as a St. Laurent or a Pinot Noir. You can even pair it with a Merlot if you like. Red sparkling wines are quite stunning too. You can have it off-dry with hints of raspberries and cherries or have it sweet with flavors of cherries and blueberries lingering in your tongue. You can also opt for a dry red sparkling wine such as a Lambrusco or a Sparkling Shiraz. These wines usually have notes of raspberry and blueberry.

White Wine

Wine Cruise

Enjoying White Wine on a Cruise

White wine comes in two different types – dry and sweet. Dry white wines usually have a floral bouquet. Some examples of these perfumed white wine include Chenin Blanc, Semillon, Fiano, and Roussanne. Other dry white wines are rich and creamy with a hint of nuts. This includes Chardonnay and Montrachet. If you want a certain tartness in your dry white wine, you can choose one with notes of citrus or those that are floral with hints of grapefruit. Other dry white wines can be herbal or grassy too.

If you favor sweet white wine, you can choose off-dry whites with notes of peaches and apricots such as a bottle of Riesling Kabinett or one with a more tropical flavor such as a Muscat Blanc. White wine is usually paired with seafood or white meat. However, a bottle of Chardonnay goes well with roast lamb with mint jelly sauce, too. White sparkling wines, the most popular in the sparkling wine category, are also a fine choice for white wine lovers.  Dry sparkling whites have light citrus flavors but can also be creamy. You can also opt for an off-dry sparkling white such as extra dry champagne, Proseco or Sparkling Riesling. Sweet sparkling white wines are also a good option because apart from their sweetness, they also have delightful notes of apricots.

Rosé: Something in Between

A rosé is always fun to look at because they are usually pink or light red. You will likely come across a dry rosé during your wine cruise and find that it is herbal and savory. There are those that are fruit and floral, too, and this includes Provence Rosé, Rosado, and Pinot Noir Rosé. For an off-dry rosé, you can choose a White Zinfandel, a White Merlot, or a Rosé d’Anjou. Rosés usually go well with any food paired with white wine. However, if you want to play it safe, it is best to pair a  rosé with your salad. If you want a livelier version of your favorite rosé, you can opt for something sparkling. Dry sparkling rosés have a floral aroma and reveal notes of strawberry. Champagne Rosé is one good example. You’d also notice a hint of strawberries in off-dry rosés but they are usually complemented by a pleasant citrusy tartness. Some of the most famous of the off-dry rosés are Moscato Rosé and Cava Rosé.

A Wine for Dessert

Dessert wines can be drank on their own but can go fascinatingly well with chocolate and fruit. Dessert wines come in three different types – those that are red fortified such as Vintage Port or Ruby Port, those that are white fortified such as Muscat de Beaume de Venise, and those that are nutty. Nutty dessert wines can be off-dry and have a hint of almond or sweet with a hint of hazelnut and a little bit of creaminess.

Jennifer Dawson

Now in its 25th year, Porthole Cruise and Travel Magazine is published bi-monthly and available worldwide through digital subscription. It offers the latest news in cruise and travel, with in-depth features on voyages, new ships, the best destinations, readers' picks, onboard cuisine, entertainment, and more!