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Choosing wine for Saga's cruises

Ben Gibson

All Saga cruises include wines with lunch and dinner at no extra charge – but how are they chosen?

Red wine bottles
The wine selection on-board Saga's cruise ships is carefully selected.

All Saga cruises from April will include wines with lunch and dinner at no extra charge – but how were they chosen? Saga cruise writer Ben Gibson had the arduous task of helping to taste and select the best wines for the ships’ cellars…

“Calling all wine lovers!” the message had said. Well I certainly fit that bill! And a few days later here we were, an assorted team of both amateur slurpers and wine aficionados, ready for a rather unique evening at Saga HQ in Folkestone. On the table were over a hundred bottles, a veritable treasure trove of wine, in a room filled with dozens of sparkling glasses, buckets of ice and tasting scorecards.

Saga’s wonderful Shipping team, including Hotel Purchasing Manager Terry Wiseman, had sourced wines from four different suppliers – red, white and rosés from the Old and New Worlds, running the full gamut of wines from all around the globe.

The aim of the evening, Terry explained, was to choose the best wines from the selection, based on appearance and taste. Classic French Sauvignon Blanc… zesty Pinot Grigio from New Zealand… crisp, clean Chilean Chardonnay… full-bodied Merlot and fruity Shiraz from South Africa… spicy Rioja and Tempranillo from Spain… all were sniffed, sipped and savoured, before being scored in various categories, with the overall winners emerging after a few fun-filled hours. Of course there were differences in opinion, but it was soon clear what the forerunners were – delicious wines with undeniable character.

At the end of the evening, perhaps a tad tipsy, I left armed with a few of my favourite bottles to enjoy at home. A fine reward for my ‘hard’ work!

So you may well be wondering exactly which wines were chosen to be delivered to Saga Sapphire and Saga Pearl II this Easter… well, you’ll have to join a cruise after April to find out for yourself… cheers!

How will it work?

  • 21 wines have been chosen for the first official selection, beginning April 2016.
  • All will be served by the glass during lunch and dinner on board.
  • A choice of 10 wines will be on the list each day: four reds, four whites and two rośe.
  • The selection will be changed on a regular basis, so guests can enjoy different wines throughout the year on their cruises.
  • In addition, other wines will be sourced from the countries visited as the ship sails, to offer a taste of the places visited.
  • Soft drinks will also be available. This includes tasty J20 Spritz, served in champagne glasses as an alcohol-free alternative.

Bottoms up!

To experience the wine for yourself, take a look at the cruises available through Saga.

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.