12 Reasons Why Cunard Is the #1 Choice for Wine Fans That Love to Cruise

“Life is too short to drink bad wine.” My wife and I are serious wine fans. We are also loyal passengers on Cunard, having completed our 19th voyage in January. As serious wine fans we read the Wine Spectator cover to cover. Cunard recently ran an ad in this wine magazine which attracts a demographic with plenty of disposable income. It got me thinking why, as a fine wine fan, Cunard is an ideal choice for fellow wine fans.

Let us look at the reasons:

  1. Bottles you cannot find elsewhere. The letters to the editor in the Wine Spectator occasionally complain they review wines from small properties and tiny distributions in the US. These are often snapped up by collectors. The wine list on Cunard is huge! They often have the big names you cannot find elsewhere like Domaine De La Romanee Conti Montrachet and Chateau Petrus.
  2. Try the finest wines by the glass. Cunard ships have Coravin wine preservation systems. They can offer first growth Bordeaux wines by the glass! They also offer a tasting flight of the five first growth Bordeaux wines. It runs $450, as I recall. You might not want to pay up for a bottle back home, but here you can at least have a taste.
  3. Restaurant service, retail pricing. I have seen a couple of examples where sought after wines like Domaine Leflaive Macon Verze, selling for about $75 in US stores are selling close to that price onboard. We ordered it in December on our Caribbean cruise at about $75.00. (We saw it on a NYC wine list priced about $210.) Chateau Musar, a famous wine from Lebanon is priced about $60 in US stores and $75 onboard. There are some fine wine bargains if you know where to look.
  4. The value seeking wine fan has plenty of choice. Another topic readers write to Wine Spectator about is the need for features on reasonably priced wines. The wine list on Cunard ships offers plenty of wines priced below $45. As I recall, Muscadet, a popular white wine from the Loire Valley in France, runs in the low $30’s onboard. I’ve often thought, if we took the world cruise, we could drink different “under $45 bottles” before we needed to start repeating them.
  5. Cunard anticipates passenger preferences. Now suppose you are German, sailing from Hamburg and this is your first Cunard voyage. You like wine but prefer German wine because it is familiar. Cunard knows they need to stock plenty of Riesling because it is Germany’s most famous grape varietal.
  6. You know real champagne. Yes, you know Prosecco is popular. The Spanish are doing wonders with Cava. You know true champagne only comes from the Champagne region of France. The Queen Mary 2 has a Laurent Perrier Champagne Bar and this is the featured champagne onboard. A bottle runs about $80, served at your table. Can you get an $80 champagne in a restaurant back home? No.
  7. You like wine and food pairings. On every voyage, Cunard does a lunch and learn. The Verandah Steakhouse is the venue for a five course multi wine event lasting about 2.5 hours. When we sit down at dinner on the first night, I ask: “When is the lunch and learn” and book my slot. It’s priced about $80/person. Both the wine and food are great. As a bonus, I’ve met really interesting people too.
  8. The higher end wine tasting. Our wine steward told me about the $120/head wine tasting. There was no meal, only canapes. It was a sit-down event. Instead of accommodating dozens, like the lunch and learn, it was limited to about ten people! $120 isn’t cheap! Why would it be worth it? I gave it a try. They opened about eight wines, all pinot noirs. Half were from the highest priced pinot noir region in the world, Burgundy. It’s an opportunity to try wines you would need to spend a lot to acquire otherwise.
  9. Does port last forever? I’ve heard it said the only thing you can do to ruin a bottle of port is to hit it against the side of a ship. (FYI: Champagne is used for christenings.) Port is a fortified wine, meaning it has some brandy added. It’s a red wine enjoyed over dessert or as a course in itself. The port bar on Queen Mary 2 has bottles dating back to 1840.
  10. The bin end list. Wine lists often change with the seasons. Wines come off the list. From time to time, the ship puts together a list of these wines, selling them at a discount. Ask your wine steward if the bin end list is available. We have discovered some good finds, asked how many bottles they have and ordered in advance for future meals on the voyage.
  11. No sales tax. When you buy wine in a restaurant back home, sales tax is part of the cost. In some cities it can be 9% plus. At sea, you have no sales tax, although you do have an automatic gratuity added.
  12. You can bring your cellar treasures. As a fine wine fan, you have bottles you have been saving for a special occasion. The fine print in the passage contract mentions passengers are allowed to bring one or two bottles for special occasions. These can only be consumed in your cabin or the dining room. The ship charges a modest $25 corkage fee. When I have asked in NYC, corkage is $50/bottle. (or higher) You want to pair your fine wine with a fine meal. Now is your chance.

As an FYI, we share our fine wines with our tablemates. We also leave about a quarter of the bottle for the sommelier and their teammates to taste at their leisure. Wine fans like to share and it builds goodwill.


For more information about Cunard Line and Cunard ships Queen Elizabeth, Queen Mary 2, Queen Victoria, and Queen Anne, click here https://www.cruisecompete.com/lines/cunard_cruises.html

Cover Photo: credit Bryce Sanders

 

 

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