|Photo by Susan J. Young|
Celebrity Cruises (www.cruisingpower.com) is expanding its wine program for guests, and making significant changes designed to give vacationers a chance to taste new vintages and learn more about wine than ever before.
Celebrity’s wine program is introducing more than 100 new selections of wines by the bottle, including 20 additional new half-bottle selections. As a result, the Solstice-class ships will offer more than 500 different wines and Millennium-class ships more than 300, as does Celebrity Century.
Previously, Celebrity's wines hailed primarily from Italy, France and California, but now guests will discover new wines onboard from South America, Spain, New Zealand, Australia, Germany, Portugal and South Africa. Wine lists are also categorized by flavor rather than grape varietal or geographic region.
Also, when Celebrity’s ships are in wine-producing areas such as Australia and South America, guests will have more opportunities to select locally produced wines.
“Our guests have told us how much they enjoy the wine experience on our ships, from participating in tastings led by our highly trained sommeliers to the convenience of our wine packages, to simply sipping a glass of wine while gazing out at sea,” said Scott Steenrod, Celebrity's associate vice president, food and beverage operations. “The updated, now globally focused program exemplifies modern luxury, with offerings from more wine-producing regions than before, a new emphasis on the many nuances of flavor that make wines unique, and a variety of convenient pricing and packaging options.”
In the ships’ main restaurants as well as in “Blu,” the specialty restaurant for AquaClass guests, wines are listed by flavor profile, identifying primary flavor characteristics so that guests can make selections based on what matters most: taste.
A new “Reserve List” within the main restaurant wine list identifies some of the finest sparkling, red, white and dessert wines from Celebrity’s specialty restaurants. Prior to the updates, these selections were not available in the main restaurants, but that's changing.
As part of the expansion, Celebrity's existing list of wines by the glass also will expand -- from 25 to 38 selections, with 60 percent of those wines by the glass being new vintages for Celebrity.
Celebrity’s in-house sommelier and beverage programming expert, Chanelle Duarte, developed the enhancements to Celebrity’s main restaurant wine list, carefully changing out over 100 wines. He has worked with the line since 2007 and was instrumental in the launch of the Enomatic wine preservation and dispensing system, as well as the other wine-related updates.
“Chanelle’s creativity and knowledge have been integral to the evolution of our beverage program, and the updated wine program is another example of her ability to elevate our already exceptional offerings to even greater heights,” Steenrod said.
Celebrity’s beverage packages that include wine also have been updated to mirror changes to the overall wine program. For example the “Taste of the Vineyards” three-, five- and seven-bottle wine packages previously available on the Millennium-class ships and Celebrity Century have now been introduced on Celebrity’s Solstice-class ships as well.
Ninety percent of the wines that guests choose to create their packages are new wines for Celebrity. The “Classic Beverage Package” and “Premium Beverage Package,” both of which include wines by the glass in addition to beer and spirits, now include more choices of wine varietals. More than 80 percent of Celebrity’s wines available by the glass are part of the Premium Beverage Package.
Celebrity engaged wine educator Brian Connors to develop a comprehensive wine education program for its sommeliers, bar staff and restaurant staff. Dubbed “Celebrity Cruises Wine University at Sea,” the program provides up to 24 hours of training with multiple levels of knowledge and advancement based on the participants’ position.
Celebrity’s Cellarmasters and future Cellarmasters complete the full training. Training focuses on wine fundamentals, including viticulture, wine making and food and wine pairing; regional knowledge, including terroir, regional wine laws and unique characteristics of the world’s wine-producing regions; tasting skills; storytelling, which helps sommeliers bring wines to life by painting a picture of its producer, grape varietal, region or even the origin of its label; and future trends.
“We are constantly tweaking and revising our training program to make it better and more relevant to the changes in the wine market,” Steenrod said. “Our training program is on par with what organizations such as the Society of Wine Educators, the Wine and Spirits Education Trust, and the Guild of Sommeliers offer."
Having trained for his Sommelier certification at the Culinary Institute of America in Napa Valley, California, Connors has extensive experience including certification by the Court of Master Sommelier, a certification through the Society of Wine Educators, a position as a wine educator at Johnson & Wales University’s College of Hospitality Management, and experience lecturing at many of the country’s top schools, including Cornell University, the Culinary Institute of America, Florida State University and others.
Guests on Celebrity’s ships also have the opportunity to experience wine tastings and food-and-wine pairing events, including the first Riedel comparative wine crystal workshops at sea, as part of the line’s Celebrity Life activities program.