Our wine events is where the Food and Beverage team really got to shine. They knew that we had to jump through so many hoops to get our wine on board for the tasting events that they needed to step it up a notch to make sure that our group was happy.
Here is a little background. This was our 6th wine cruise with Wilhelm Family Vineyards, a boutique winery located in Southern Arizona. The way the wine program is supposed to work is that the wine is shipped from their winery in Arizona to the ship and the wine events hosted on board are with their boutique wines. There was supposed to be a refrigerated shipping container going from Fort Lauderdale to the ship so that the wine could be shipped to the ship. With gaps in post-covid logistics that option was not available, and shipping Arizona wine directly to Argentina created another set of logistical roadblocks, not the least of which would have been getting the wine through customs and then delivered to the ship. Our winemaker Karyl Wilhelm is a UC Davis educated and certified wine maker, who always shares her vast array of knowledge with the guests in our wine groups. Usually this is done while we are enjoying her own wine. She and her husband Kevin really stepped up to the plate and worked with a local Sommelier in Buenos Aires who helped them source local Argentine wines to use for our tasting, blending and food and wine pairing events. We purchased the wine through him and then had to work with a local export logistics company to make sure that all the proper export taxes and fees were paid and the wine could be properly delivered to the ship.
This process meant that the first time Karyl was actually tasting the wine she had purchased for the events was actually on board the ship. This is how and when the food and beverage team really stepped up. Since Karyl was having to make it more of an Argentine experience with wine, she creatively came up with wine experiences that including identifying aromas in one seminar and creating our own blend in the next one. The food and beverage manager, activities manager, cellar master and dining operations manager sat down with us and reviewed every detail of our on board group activities to make sure they went off without a hitch.
For the Aroma seminar Karyl put aromas in a glass of either red or white wine for us to smell. The aroma was designed to be strong and to train us to identify both good and off-smelling aromas in wine. We sat at tables and worked as teams to try to identify what we smell. The food and beverage staff facilitated this by helping to circulate the added aroma wine between each table. Then after we had done the aroma identification, we also enjoyed and tasted unaltered wine and tried to identify what we found pleasant or perhaps off in the the aroma of those wines. There was lots of set up and pouring and work done by the Celebrity food and beverage staff to make that event work.
They jumped through hoops to put everything together, including offering us a choice of upstairs in the Dining Room, Blu’ or the Tuscan Grill. We ultimately decided on the main dining room due to the size and shape of the tables.
Our guests really enjoyed the learning process of the aroma seminar. We all tried to use our new found knowledge both at happy hour and at the dinner table.
Our next event was our blending seminar, for which Karyl had acquired several kinds of single grape varieties. She led us in tasting each one separately and then instructed us to have fun creating our own blends. The interactive aspect of this event was enjoyed by all
Our final event was our luncheon at Tuscan Grill. This is where the food and beverage team really pulled out all the stops not only at the event but in the preparation for the event. Karyl had tasted all the food during prior cruises as the menu has pretty much stayed the same over the course of our 4 previous wine cruises, but she hadn’t tasted the wine. The food and beverage director offered for the 4 of us to come to the Tuscan grill for dinner the night prior to the event as an opportunity for us to try all the food together with the wine. To which we said “Well sure, but at this point we can’t exactly change the wine” and the food and beverage manage replied “No be we can change the food!” We were thrilled and very much enjoyed the dinner. We even made one adjustment to the branzino fish dish by adding a little bit of lemon caper sauce to bump the acidity to better pair with the wine.
The actual event took place the next day and everyone really enjoyed not only their meal, but trying the Argentine wines. The service for the event was extra special, very attentive and lots of wine being poured at just the right time with each course.
Celebrity truly made our wine event experience extraordinary!