When it comes to wine, this writer has a difficult time keeping his Merlots straight from his Zinfandels, and whether you should serve red wine with meat – or is it white with meat,and red with fish? What I do know for sure is that I enjoy a fine glass of wine pretty much any time of day.
So what does my passing interest of wine to do with river cruising? As it turns out, quite a lot. You see most of the navigable rivers in Europe flow through the heart of the wine regions in their respective countries. All of the major river cruise lines take advantage of this added bonus.
All most all will include wine and beer with your evening meal, and some will offer it with lunch and breakfast (think mimosa) as well. And it’s not just any wine. You will most likely be choosing each night from a fine selection that is native to the area in which you were cruising that day. The waiters and sommelier are well versed in the history and provenance of each bottle on offer, so you have an opportunity to learn the history of the wines as you cruise through the stunning countryside from which it came.
Beside sailing through the heart of wine country, your river cruise line will likely offer excursions to several vineyards and wineries too. This is a wonderful way to learn about the wines produced there, see the vineyards, tour a cellar or two, and of course taste the wines!
And for the real wine connoisseurs, the oenophiles, river cruise lines offer wine-themed cruises. These special cruises feature itineraries and excursions that will be a real treat. As well as broadening one’s knowledge, one visits multiple wineries, and also has the chance to converse with local vintners. Quite often the cruise line will bring on board one or two special guest vintners who will offer talks, wine tasting events, and wine pairings with the fine cuisine served at dinner. These vintners may even sail with you for the duration of the cruise so there is lots of time to converse with experts.
For the oenophile, or even those of us with a passing interest, there may be no better way to learn about wine then to sit back with a glass of fine wine as the guest vintner explains all about its history while outside the expansive windows of your ship some of the most beautiful scenery in the world glides slowly by.
Article originally appeared as “A Wine Lovers Delight” in The Travel Bucket.
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