Sunday, September 4, 2011

Cruising on Seabourn and Complimentary Wine Selections - Watch Out For Wine Snobs!

As many times fodder for my writings, I have been emailed by a few people concerning the choices of complimentary wines on Seabourn.  (OK, the wines are not "complimentary".  They are included.)

Why?  Because some people think that offering modest, or even "cheap", wines on a Seabourn ship is offensive...or at least an offense.  As I prepare for the Goldring Travel 2011 Food & Wine Cruise (OK, I am calling it a Food & Foliage Cruise), I think I am able to say, with a strong conviction:  GET OVER YOURSELVES.

A recent list of the complimentary wines is as follows:

White

Pinot Grigio Santa Margherita (Italy)
Gavi La Scolca White Label Piedmont (Italy)
Chardonnay Louis Latour Grand Ardeche (France)
Chardonnay Robert Mondavi California (USA)
Chardonnay Unwooded De Meye (South Africa)
Chardonnay Milton Park (South Australia)
Sauvignon Blanc Wingspan Nelson (New Zealand)
Sauvignon Blanc Santa Alicia Maipo Valley (Chile)
Sauvignon Blanc Michel Lynch Bordeaux Blanc (France)

Red

Pinot Noir Brassfield Round Mountain High Valley (USA)
Cotes de Rhone Grenache Syrah (France)
Merlot Anakena Rapel Valley (Chile)
Merlot Arrowood Napa Valley California (USA)
Merlot/Cabernet Sirius Bordeaux Rouge (France)
Chianti Classico Riserva Placido (Italy)
Rosso di Toscana Serego Alighieri Tuscany (Italy)
Carmenere Petit Verdot Shiraz Santa Alicia B2 Blend (Chile)
Malbec Corvina Passo Doble Tupungato Valley (Argentina)
Malbec Los Toneles Mendoza (Argentina)
Zinfandel Quivira Dry Creek Valley California (USA)
Aromo Cabernet Sauvignon Maule Valley (Chile)
Milton Park Shiraz (South Australia)

Rose

JP Chenet Grenache Cinsault Rose (France)
Modello Rosato Masi (Italy)
Rose de Meye Stellenbosch (South Africa)
Beringer White Zinfandel California (USA)

Dessert Wine

Chateau Saint Amand, Sauternes (France)

Sparkling

Nicholas Feuillatte Brut Champagne (France)
Prosecco Raso Corona Prosecco IGT (Italy)

Does the represent a world class wine list?  No...and it isn't supposed to.  It is supposed to represent a variety of styles and flavors not only that compliment the cuisine being offered, but which are enjoyed by the guests. 

Now, for you wine snobs...or should I say wannabe wine snobs...or should I say, those who don't really know much about wines and feel that not knowing is a sign of ignorance or weakness (it is not!) out there:  Pause.  Pause Again. 

OK now let me ask you this:

Is it your intention to insult Seabourn or the wonderful person you just met who really isn't into wines, but enjoys a sweet, fruity, Beringer White Zinfindel?  Would you shun this person because they did not spend enough on a hamburger...or just the wine they like?  (I would take a White Castle at 50 cents over  $25.00 Kobe burger...and I know many people would.  OK, hate me.  Shun me.  Don't let me on Seabourn!)

Would you insult me because I enjoy pickeled herring, sardines and smoked salmon at breakfast rather than lamb chops or eggs benedict?  Or would you shun the person who enjoys two perfectly poached eggs simply placed on white (not exotic) toast.  (I mean that costs what?  50 cents.)

 Along those lines, did you notice that there are three totally different chardonneys. Should the Napa loving big, oaky, American chardonney lover be catered to, but not the one who prefers the lighter, grassier, South African unwooded style? By the way you will note that this does not have anything to do with price...and I have no idea which costs more. 

All of sudden this wine snobbery, whether based on price or taste, sounds pretty silly, doesn't it.

OK, now that we are over the cost of the taste, or even the taste, of what we enjoy defines who we are thing, let's get down to how the heck a cruise line selects its complimentary wines.  Seabourn is not going to serve you complimentary the more expensive wines.  In fact, it will serve wines that will inspire the winelover to upgrade to a revenue making wine.  The wines will be good (some better than others), but for most wine lovers they are not quite "there".

Let's be honest here, those that can seriously appreciate the differences in wines are not going to be slurping multiple bottles during a rich dinner and honestly be able to tell you that the subtlties still are noticable. They aren't. But I am as guilty as anyone else in not downgrading my second (third?) bottle.  Every cruise line and restaurant counts heavily on that...as to the waiters that are getting a tip based upon the cost of the bottle (not on Seabourn, Silversea or, soon, Crystal).

In fact, I am a big one for changing my wines with my courses as I find paring wines to be fun and enjoyable. I do have one rule, however, whether it be on Seabourn or any other place: Once I am eating something other than a lightly prepared dish (or am at a tasting), I stay away from the expensive wines...because I just can't appreciate them to the extent they deserve under those circumstances. 

That said, I will tell you that Seabourn has some not so hidden treasures in its wine list.  The Gavi La Scolca White Label 2009 is rated an 88 by Wine Spectator and to my palate is a wonderfully crisp wine with light peach and almond notes that pares nicely with many foods.  The very similar Black Label sells for about 2.5 times the price and has the same rating.  It is one of my "go to" wines while on Seabourn.  But, if you like, you can go to the added cost wine list.  (OK, you can shun me again!)

Simply put, each guest is entitled to drink what they enjoy regardless of whether you like it or find it appropriate. I think Seabourn would be failing if it did not offer such wines; leaving some guests, well, high and dry.

I think I am going to have a Budweiser now.

What do you think?  Let us know on The Gold Standard Luxury Travel Forum!