If a bar is going to attract wine drinkers, then they have to offer more than wines that are typically packed in as standards along with the “well drinks”. And for an added incentive, if the bar changes the wine selections often, it will keep their wine loving customers coming back.
However, most bars that “play with wine” simply call themselves “wine bars” because the setup work is so specialized that it requires constant attention. But on a cruise, it is possible to organize wine selections many days in advance, so that at appointed times, the wine is available at one or more bar locations. Onboard Princess Cruises the Sommelier and the Bar Managers work together to make sure this happens correctly. That way they can roll in a wine tasting right along with the other drinks without skipping a beat.
It also allows them to create rather elaborate wine flights in the bar to give customers the opportunity to choose from one or more wine specialties. They can also bring cheeses in from the galley, include special glassware setups and viola, it’s fancy.
For example, one of Princess’ options that’s made available in a bar for a few hours is a “New World” red flight. It consists of 3 red wines from the New World (basically anywhere outside Europe) that have been chosen in advance for that particular tasting on a selected evening. After tasting these New World reds, everyone agreed that the flight stepped up quickly in intensity starting with a Pinot Noir, moving along to a Carmenere, and finishing with a big Petite Syrah.
The Pinot Noir they picked was a very easy drinking wine from Castle Rock. It is a fairly common bar selection and is an excellent tasting starter just to get into the flavors with some cheese. Set the mood, so to speak.
But then it moves to a not-so-simple Carmenere from Caliterra. This wine is quite complex; it has a bouquet containing essences of dark fruit, clove, and cinnamon, all set in a briary background. After the Pinot, it’s like moving into high gear. And with a body of bright acid, peppers and grippy tannins, this is no wimp. Not bad for a bar room!
This tasting ends up with Spellbound Petite Syrah (Michael Mondavi’s operation) with a complex bouquet of rosemary, basil, mineral earth, and dark fruit. For a Petite Syrah (normally off the charts in body) this wine has an excellent acid balance and light tannins.
Note that Spellbound is from a producer that is affiliated with the Mondavi group. Princess continues their relationship with Mondavi even after about 10 years and the excellent wines produced, either directly or in joint ventures with Mondavi, are a study in themselves.
After going through all 3 wines, we noted a consistency in acid balance and fruit finish. It seems that Barry White (Princess Cruises’ Director of Hotel Operations) manages the process of selecting Princess’ wines. His preferences are evident in the choices. Nearly all are easily approachable and well rounded selections that would pair well with many kinds of food. With limitations on the total number of wines that can be taken on board, it is essential that each choice be food-friendly.