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Top 5 Tips for Drinking Wine at Sea: Expect the Unexpected

Boats Pais VascoHaving finally disembarked off the National Geographic Explorer from our 5 day voyage soaring across the Atlantic, there were some key lessons learned that need to shared. I say this emphatically because if you ever find yourself opening a bottle among friends, or leading a tasting for 150 people on a cruise ship, don’t hesitate to keep these five rules at close hand. Trust me, you’ll need it.

Note to readers – much sarcasm is embedded in the lines below.

1. Small Glasses & “The Foundation Effect” – Despite popular belief that small glasses will lead to smaller pours, we learned that at least on our boat, this was far from the case. If anything, most glasses were filled about three-fourths full. A small wine glass with a healthy pour might be celebrated, but when conducting a wine tasting, commenting on the power of the ever-valued “swirl”, what typically follows is 150 people spraying their neighbors with delicious Vinho Verde, because a wave decided to rock the boat ‘just so’. Fortunately, the abstract Miro like stains seemed perfectly suited for our tour across the northern coast of Galicia, leaving passengers with a lovely “how quaint” feeling. (Flickr photo by kypt@nuy)

Lesson: Buy large sturdy wine glasses for boat tastings, or stand far away from anyone with a glass in hand

2. Wine Experts are Unbiasedly Popular: Unlike most wine tastings, where wine lovers attend because of their keen curiosity of the product, this is NOT the case at sea, because passengers are forced to choose between your session or reading their long winded novel in their cabins. Add to the fact that passengers are typically, required to pay for their drinks, and you have a very well-attended wine tasting on board. However, despite the fact that we were a popular pair with free bottles of wine in hand, when that second glass emerged, we found a few retirees in the back the room who were not only dead asleep, but holding their wine glasses fiercely in hand. I’m not quite sure if this is a testament to that specific wine, or to free alcohol in general, but we’re banking on the first.

Lesson: Regardless of your credentials, bringing free wine makes you really popular

3. Sighting Bio-luminescent dolphins Doesn’t Mean It’s a Bad Bottle: When the clock struck midnight last Saturday evening, our residential marine biologist ran into the lounge where a dozen of us where chatting and enjoying the last dregs from the tasting, and said, “Come quick, there are a handful of bio-luminescent dolphins bow-surfing off the front of the boat!” Now, I’m clearly not a scientist, but after having enjoyed a few glasses of wine, one can’t deny that seeing day glow dolphins jump at break neck speeds in front of a boat requires a bit of skepticism. “Hey Richard, I know you’re telling us that those dolphins are glowing because of the light emitted by bioluminescent marine plankton in the water, which when agitated makes the dolphins appear radioactive, but are you sure those bottles weren’t corked?” Despite Richard’s emphatic denial that the bottles weren’t bad, and the dolphins did actually exist, I’m suggesting you lay off the liquor before experiencing any once in a lifetime visions. (Flickr photo by kalandrakas)

Lesson: Don’t drink wine before spotting dayglow dolphins.

4. There is a Direct Relationship Between Wine Consumption and Stability: Although you will be told otherwise, allow me to set the record straight, there is a direct relationship between my walking successfully on a boat and drinking wine. When wine is not consumed, you just feel perpetually sloshed because you can’t get from one side of the room to the other without swaying and hitting everything in your path. What’s worst is that passengers know you’re the wine expert and glance at you with that “hey, what have you been up to?” look, which only makes you feel worst because your behavior is simply a result of lacking any semblance of sea-legs. However, when wine was consumed, my body corrected itself, allowing me to feel confident and purposeful in my steps, even if I didn’t have to go more than 15 feet in any one direction.

Lesson: Wine cures everything!

5. I’ll leave this one up to you. What was the most important lesson you’ve learned when drinking wine on a boat?

Cheers,

Gabriella Opaz

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  • http://Interculturalist.com Lisa Podratz

    Thank you for sharing this and allowing me to feel like I was on the Explorer with you. Wow, what an experience.

    Lisa :)

  • DaveT

    Most important lesson: get Ryan and Gabriella to score you some sparkling Vinho Verde in the tasting room while all of the other passengers are visiting their 27th church of the trip.

    Apart from that, I’ll second the “large glasses” recommendation. Not only does it keep the wine off the deck, all wines taste alike from a small glass when everyone on board has the same cold.

    • http://www.catavino.net Gabriella

      It was great fun to sample a sparkling Alvarinho at Sala Ogival, especially with two very curious and open-minded individuals. And please let us know if you should need more information! The catavino.net/lindblad page is now live and we’re happy to add any additional bits of info you might find useful.

      • DaveT

        Alvarinho! Yes; I knew vinho verde was wrong as soon as I’d typed it, but I haven’t dug out our notes from the trip yet. Those were some delicious bubbles, though.

        Thanks again for the great introduction to Iberian wines.

        D&S

  • http://www.spiltwine.com Spiltwine

    Funny and entertaining read

    #5 -
    As a young up and coming wine professional I worked at a small tasting room on the local pier. Incidentally, a good friend of mine lived, in a boat, in the nearby harbour.

    We were organising a party (on his boat) and had the great idea of him coming by the pier in a dingy and I would chuck bottles of wine from the pier into the little inflatable boat…

    Lesson: Wine bottles – full of wine – don’t float!

    -Louis

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