Thursday, July 3, 2008

Onboard Connoisseurs Wine Tasting

This is the last of my three-part blog about our recent weekend cruise to Ensenada via Royal Caribbean's Monarch of the Sea vessel.

One of the day's activities was a wine course. For an extra $9.95 I felt it was my blogger duty to enroll and report back to my faithful three or four readers on what took place.

There were about 60-70 of us placed at various tables in one of the dining halls. In front of us were three glasses, one for whites and roses, one for reds, and a Champagne flute.

Here are the wines (verbatim as listed on the program):
  1. Vouvray
  2. Caliterra Sauvignon Blanc
  3. Woodbridge Twin Oak Chardonnay
  4. Blush Wine White Zinfandel
  5. Wolf Blass Merlot
  6. Foot Print Shiraz
  7. Condesa De Leganza
  8. Sparkling Wine
It was quite an international representation - the Vouvray from France, Sauvignon Blanc from Chile, Chardonnay from Robert Mondavi's second label, White Zin from California, Merlot from Australia, Shiraz from Australia, Tempranillo from Spain, and Korbel Brut to finish things off.

I have to say the sommelier chose wines that were a good reflection of their type - each was distinctive. None was anything to rave about, but neither was anything bad. They were all very drinkable. My personal favorite was the Condesa De Leganza Tempranillo.

There were four other tasters at my table, none of whom knew much about wine. They were all charmed by the Vouvray and made faces when they tasted the Sauvignon Blanc, staring at the glass not quite knowing what to make of it. It was clearly the black sheep of the tasting. That herbal/grassy character was too different for most people, especially coming after the sweetish Vouvray.

I felt sorry for the fellow who led the tasting. I think I was the only one in the whole room who spit, and with each successive wine the room became noisier and noisier. By the halfway poiint or even before, hardly anyone was paying attention to him. He made a few futile attempts to hush the crowd, but, as I just said, they were futile.

Most of what he said was accurate but he did say a couple of things that raised my eyebrows. Among them, a statement that the best vintages were 1994 and 1997, and in this decade, 2001 and 2006. He never said exactly which region or wine this applied to. Another thing he said was that white wines do not age, but all red wines get better the longer you keep them. I wasn't sure if he was just saying these things to see if anyone would react, or if he really believed it; I just kept my mouth shut and listened.

At dinner the headwaiter recognized me from the tasting earlier in the day and asked what I thought of it. I said it was kind of noisy and I felt sorry for the person conducting the tasting. He nodded and said the poor guy used to make some threatening remarks to people but finally gave up. Resistance is futile, I suppose.

It was a nice diversion and the wines were decent examples. For $9.95 it was worthwhile. It didn't seem like people cared much about learning anything, though.

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