THE RIGHT TO EAT, DRINK AND BE MERRY may not be among the first 10 Constitutional Amendments. But when it comes to drink especially, it may well define what it is like to sail on a Norwegian Cruise Line ship. With 16 ships and five more in the making, the 51-year-old line calls on nearly 300 destinations throughout the world year-round. And on each of those voyages, its ships carry about 100 varieties of wines.
If that number of choices pleases wine aficionados, it may also send panic through new wine fans. What to choose? How to choose? Not to worry. Norwegian makes it simple. Using WineQuest, a wine database, Norwegian offers a most intelligently arranged list. Each group of wines is labeled as Light Intensity, Medium Intensity or Full Intensity. Under the white wine Medium Intensity category, for example, it indicates, “Best with … shellfish or poultry …” Having a steak? The red wine Full Intensity heading tells you, “These rich wines are remarkable when paired with juicy red meat.”
Together, they comprise a cornucopia of the world’s wines chosen by a beverage team that considers each wine’s quality, desirability and popularity with guests. And what are the most popular varietals? According to the ship’s cellar masters, guests prefer Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio and Moscat. As well as wines, “Norwegian also hosts Winemaker Cruises,” said Luis Ortega, director of beverage development and operations. “The program is now in its third year.”
If the range of choices is wide, so is the range of prices. A large number of bottles are marked in the $20–30 range, and many are also offered by the glass. From there, they move up mostly to $40–80. The far end of the scale includes special bottles, such as Opus One Napa Valley ($375) and Château Lafite Rothschild 2012 ($1,215).
Norwegian’s wine stewards may not open many $1,215 bottles, but in an average year, they do pull the cork on 1,339,980 bottles of wine. Think of that as 7,635,212 glasses of joy and, yes, for guests, the right to eat, drink and be merry.
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