Looking for the perfect wine holiday? Try a cruise

Wine lovers have it better than ever before, with so many ways to enjoy their favourite drink. From collecting fine wine from specialist sellers to heading out on wine-based holidays, there’s something for every oenophile.

And what could be better than a wine holiday on a cruise ship? There are all kinds of wine cruises, many of which include wine-pairing events on board and exclusive visits to local winemakers. Here’s why a cruise should be your next wine holiday.

 

Why a cruise could be the ideal wine holiday

Cruise liners are clamouring to provide the ideal wine-lovers holiday. Regular cruise goers expect high levels of entertainment, and for the cruise company to provide lots of entertainment choice. Over recent years, this has increasingly included wine-related activities both onshore and on board.

Many cruise lovers are well-travelled, and they also tend to be discerning. This is why cruise liners are now offering some of the best wines in the world in their restaurants and bars. On the right kind of cruise, you can expect to sample everything from world-famous wines to lesser known labels. For example, Cunard serves wine from the novel and growing wine region of Nashik, which is found on the northwest coast of India.

 

Rare vintages and specialist wines on board

Showing the commitment cruise liners now have to providing the best wine experience, Crystal Cruises sends its team of sommeliers to the Napa Valley to blend a unique premium wine. And every year, this special wine sells out.

Cruise liners can buy wine at duty-free cost, making mark-ups on board lower than in premium hotels and restaurants on land. This means cruise goers have the chance to sample high-end wines at lower prices. That doesn’t mean you can’t spend a fortune on a bottle while you’re abroad, but it does mean there are plenty to enjoy at around £20 per bottle.

And while you may not find a Chateau Lafleur 1990, there are high end fine wines available on many cruises. Holland America Line stocks the 2005 Chateau Petrus, Pomerol (France) at $2,300, Cunard the Domaine de la Romanée-Conti ‘Le Montrachet’ 2001 (France) for £4,302 ($5,295). The Crystal Serenity cruise ship boasts a wine list with the rare vintage from Domaine de la Romanee-Conti for around £16,250 ($20,000).

 

Cruise passengers look for luxury wines

And if you’re wondering whether people actually buy wines at this price while on board, the answer is yes. In 2018, Crystal Cruises sold a bottle of Chateau Mouton Rothschild and a magnum of Chateau Petrus. These sold for more than £1625.00 ($2,000) each.

Many cruise liners offer impressively stocked wine cellars. For example, Crystal Cruises’ passenger ships Serenity and Crystal Symphony each hold around 1,000 people. And to cater to the passengers, each shop carries approximately 300 bottles of dessert wine, 2,500 bottles of champagne, 8,000 bottles of white wine, 2,000 bottles of sparkling wine and 10,000 bottles of red wine.

Cunard’s ship, the Queen Mary 2, holds 2,700 passengers. And it sets sail with more than 45,000 bottles of wine. Storing an entire wine cellar on board has its own challenges. The wines are stowed securely in temperature-controlled rooms in the lower aft part of the liner. This moves less than other parts if the weather gets wild, and for extra protection the bottles are wrapped and stacked in v-shaped wine racks.

 

Wine-related activities and vineyard visits

But it’s not just about the wine served on board. There are a growing range of wine-related activities for passengers to enjoy. For example, the Koningsdam (run by Holland America Line) has its very own wine blending room. Here, passengers can make their own blend of wine under supervision from experts.

Cunard, on the other hand, has teamed up with the Wine and Spirit Education Trust (WSET), to offer courses in wine education on board. Classes are run by trained educators and sommeliers. Passengers can complete the WSET Level 1 course in five days or the 12-day Level 2 course.

Many passengers look forward to the destinations as much as being on board. And plenty of cruises are stopping at vineyards along the way. In 2018, Holland America Line offered 23 specialist food and drink excursions for passengers. These include a trip to the Mazzorbo island in Venice, which is world renowned for its vineyards.

Oceana Cruises joins Holland America Line to offer trips to vineyards on the beautiful island of Santorini. This boasts a particularly interesting terroir thanks to the volcanic rock and seat mists. These are just a couple of examples of the vast array of wine-related cruises available.

If you fancy booking one next year, you could book on the Queen Mary 2 for a transatlantic trip to New York. The voyage will include a Festival of Food and Wine and costs from £1,649 per person. Head to cunard.co.uk for more information. Or you could go on the ten-day Wines & Artistry Cruise from Barcelona to London with the opportunity to try wines from France, Portugal and Spain.

Why Bordeaux offers the ideal holiday for wine lovers

For wine lovers looking for an adventure, Bordeaux is up there with the best destinations in the world. Bordeaux is located in the south western region of France and is the perfect city to visit for vineyard visits, wine tasting tours and to buy wine.

 

The 18th century part of Bordeaux itself is listed by UNESCO World Heritage as ‘an outstanding urban and architectural ensemble’ and is worth visiting for its cultural offerings as well as its wine.

 

Ideal holiday for wine lovers and non-wine lovers

 

Entertainment in the city is varied and wide ranging. The National Opera of Bordeaux in the fabulous Grand Theatre located in the main square of the city is a great place to start. The theatre dates back to the 18th century and is a stunningly beautiful building, covered in ornate sculptures. More laid-back evening entertainment can be found at the many jazz and blues clubs in the city.

 

Visitors to Bordeaux should all take a trip to at least one vineyard, even if they are not all wine lovers. And for wine aficionados, the city and region form the ideal holiday destination.

 

Combining art and wine at historic vineyard

 

Next door to Bordeaux, in a city called Pauillac, there’s a vineyard that is definitely worth visiting. Chateaux Mouton Rothschild has been making high quality wine since the middle of the 19th century, and today hosts tastings, tours and has a wine museum on site. This vineyard combines art and wine for a cultural treat and offers plenty of wine tastings throughout the year.

 

After the sightseeing and vineyard visiting, it’s a must to visit one of the high-end restaurants in Bordeaux. Try Le Pressoir d’Argent, which is at the Le Grand Hotel. With two Michelin stars and a menu designed by super chef Gordon Ramsay, it’s the ideal way to finish off a trip to this historical and fascinating wine region.

 

Food options for every budget

 

If your budget doesn’t stretch quite that far, then you could take a train ride out of the centre of Bordeaux to Les Halles de Bacalan. This undercover food market boasts loads of delicious food options and has a very relaxed vibe. Just across the road from the market you can find La Cite du Vin museum, where you’ll find all sorts of information and fascinating displays about the region’s most famous export.

 

Bordeaux is easy to get to, with flights every day from London Gatwick run by Ryanair. Easyjet and British Airways. If you can afford five-star luxury, make sure you stay at Le Grand Hotel, which is right in the middle of the beautiful old part of the city. It’s located on the Place de la Comedie, and from the balcony of your room you’ll be able to see the Opera House across the square. The perfect place to enjoy a bottle of delicious wine from Bordeaux itself.

Where’s the ideal wine holiday destination? Montenegro

Wine lovers looking for a holiday destination with a difference should consider Montenegro. It may not be the first country you think of when planning a trip to wine country, but Montenegro boasts wines you just can’t find anywhere else.

 

Bordering Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia and Kosovo, Montenegro is located on the Adriatic coast. And for visitors interested in vineyard tours, it couldn’t be a better destination.

 

Montenegro is the ideal wine holiday

 

Montenegro is the perfect wine producing country thanks to its extremely fertile land and spot-on microclimate. Thank to the latter, it’s one of the sunniest countries on the Adriatic, and the sunshine lasts all year round.

 

Eco Resort Cermeniza is one of the vineyards open to visitors. Nestling among the hills surrounding a small fishing village called Virpazar, the vineyard is close to the biggest lake in southern Europe – Lake Skadar. The family-owned vineyard has been producing wines for more than four centuries. Vines that have been producing the local vranac grape for more than hundred years still continue to do so.

 

The vranac grape is related to the newer Italian primitivo. Not only that, but vranac is also the precursor to the zinfandel grape. Wine has been made in Montenegro for a few thousand years, using the vranac grape to make rich ruby reds spliced with berries.

 

Local, ancient vineyards offer tours

 

Another vineyard worth visiting is the Radevic vineyard, which is relatively near to the capital city of Podgorica. It mainly makes French wines and is run by a husband and wife team called Goran and Renee Radevic.

 

Their wines include cabernet sauvignon, chardonnay, syrah and a rosé. They have won various awards for their wine, and also make a white port from the grapes in their vineyard, which goes back 26 generations into winemaking history. The couple host vineyard tours at their winemaking site, and export their wine to buyers in France, Switzerland, Hong Kong and Germany.

The biggest vineyard in Montenegro is Plantaze, which exports wine to around 40 countries. They specialise in purple vranac, which is a very heavy, sweet, rich wine, ideal to go with the meaty stews that remain a specialty of the region.

 

To finish a wine tour of Montenegro, head down to Herceg Novi on the south western coastline of the country. Situated just above the Bay of Kotor, a vineyard called Castel Savina is ideally placed for wine tasting while taking in the beautiful view.