If anyone tells you that a Disney cruise is just for kids, they haven't been on one. I've mentioned in previous posts that I have learned quite a bit about wine (as well as tequila, rum, and other alcohol) from tasting seminars on the Disney Cruise Line. The cruise I just returned from was no exception. I had the chance to take the Chocolate Tasting Seminar on the Disney Fantasy, which is a new-ish class that pairs 4 different drinks (3 wines and a whiskey) with foods to help you explore your palate. Some of the results were not surprising, but the overall experience was educational and fun.
I will admit that I didn't take notes during the tasting because I just wanted to enjoy it. So I am doing all of this from memory. If you have any additions or corrections, feel free to leave them in the comments.
We booked our tasting seminars immediately when we arrived on the ship because I know a lot of them book up. This particular tasting was held in the Ooh La La Bar, which is part of the Europa themed bars at the back of the ship. The room was lovely and definitely set the scene for the event. The tables were set for 2 to 6 people and already had all of the chocolate and most of the wine poured when we arrived. The one thing that was missing that I had really hoped for was a written description of everything.
4 different drinks were presented–a champagne, a red wine, a port wine, and a whiskey. Each drink was paired with at least two different foods to taste with. We were told to take a sip of the alcohol first and see what we thought of it by itself. We then held a bit of the chocolate in our mouths and sipped the alcohol again to see if there was a difference. As a class we then discussed which pairings we liked best.
If you are a fan of Champagne, have you ever considered pairing it with caramel? I was completely surprised by how much I enjoyed the white chocolate/caramel pairing with the rose champagne. If you are giving the gift of a Champagne of the Month club, maybe consider giving a box of caramels with it? The acidity and the sweetness balanced each other perfectly.
Red Wine Tasting
We tried the red wine with white, milk, and dark chocolate. I'm a huge fan of red wine and dark chocolate, but my husband actually preferred the white chocolate. Judging from what the rest of the people in the class said, you basically like whichever chocolate you like best paired with red wine.
Port Wine Tasting
Our third pairing as a little bit different because we were comparing port wine paired with dark chocolate or Parmesan cheese. Apparently it is common in Italy for dessert to be a port wine paired with salty cheeses. I assumed that I would like the chocolate better because I am a chocoholic, but I actually liked the pairing with the cheese better–even as a dessert. This wasn't your ordinary Kraft Parmesan Cheese in the green shaker. It was good cheese. Definitely something I am going to consider for parties in the future!
Lastly we had whiskey paired with a melted dark chocolate. I don't drink whiskey ever. But putting a little spoon full of chocolate in my mouth first and then sipping the whiskey, it was actually not too bad. It's not something that I will probably do again, but it was interesting to taste the major difference in the alcohol.
What I Learned
Aside from just enjoying the great drinks and desserts, I learned a couple of things from the class (or maybe re-learned). First, the pairing of wine and food is so important to your palate that it can actually change the taste of the wine. That's one of the reasons that it is so important to read the tasting notes that come with the wine clubs. Second, although I may be a big fan of a particular pairing, half the room may disagree with me. Giving a little bit of variety to your guests is important to ensure that everyone is happy. Finally, a simple food and wine pairing with just a few different options is a perfect way to spend a couple of hours with friends. You don't have to serve 10 different appetizers and drinks. Just pick a few and let people really spend time with them tasting and discussing. It's relaxing, fun, and a great way to start conversations.
Have you considered doing any of the wine tastings on a Disney Cruise? Have you already done any? How did you enjoy them?