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Thursday, March 30, 2006

Wine Tasking Made Easy With Progressive Wine Lists

Wine Tasting Made Easy
With progressive wine lists and a variety of choices, cruise ships make it easy to appreciate fine wine with your meals—at sea and at home.

A progressive wine list makes choosing a wine to go with your dinner simple. The list groups wines by categories such as “full-bodied reds” and “full-bodied dry whites.” If your taste buds crave a slightly sweet wine, you have several choices, including California Zinfandels, Washington Rieslings and similar wines from Germany and France. If a full-bodied red is your favorite with a juicy filet mignon, the list’s choices range from a classic California Cabernet Sauvignon to a trendy Australian Shiraz. Most cruise ship restaurants offer dozen's of wines by the glass or by the bottle.

For the record, feel free to enjoy a glass of white wine with your steak. In fact, your wine list will likely include several bold, fuller-bodied white wines, including some popular Napa Valley Chardonnays, that work well with red meat.

Wine-Tasting Terminology

Dry? Full-bodied? Crisp?
If you haven’t ventured far into wine-tasting territory, don’t worry. Read on for a crash course in wine-tasting confidence that explains these and other terms.

Body tells you whether the wine feels full or light in your mouth.
Bouquet,or aroma, refers to the way the wine smells. Typically, older wines have a bouquet; younger wines have an aroma.
Crisp denotes brisk acidity, desirable in white wines. Soft means lower acidity, a smoother taste and a fruity, mellow wine.
Dry tells you the wine isn’t sweet.
Finish is the wine’s final flavor and texture after you’ve swallowed.
Fruity refers to a wine with fruit aromas and flavors but doesn’t denote sweetness.
Oaky describes the toasty, vanilla aroma or flavor of a wine aged in oak barrels.

To Swirl or Not to Swirl
Swirling, sniffing and swishing all go hand in hand with sipping your wine, so follow these simple tips for wine-tasting enjoyment:

Hold your glass by the stem. If you cradle the bowl, the wine’s temperature and taste could change.
Examine the wine’s color and clarity to enjoy the color and the moment. Swirl the wine to see if it has legs or tears—narrow rivulets that cling to the sides of the glass. Slower-moving legs indicate a wine that’s rich and full-bodied.
Stick your nose in the glass and inhale deeply to understand the wine’s traits. Typical aromas include fruits, herbs, chocolate and even grass and tobacco. Take a sip, then move the wine around in your mouth for up to 10 seconds before swallowing and exhaling slowly. If you sip too quickly, you’ll miss the complex sensations of a good wine.

Grape Expectations on Board
Fine wines are served in the main restaurants onboard, but now some ships also feature expanded wine menus and wine bars, where guests can choose from a variety of wine offerings. And wine lovers can enjoy their favorite in the upscale restaurants featured on most ships. Here, entrées such as prime steak, lobster tail and whole Dover sole can be paired with select wines.

So now that you know how, get set to savor your favorite wine at sea and at home.


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