A Perfect Pairing: Wine and Yacht Chartering
“As I ate the oysters with their strong taste of the sea and their faint metallic taste that
the cold white wine washed away, leaving only the sea taste and the succulent texture,
and as I drank their cold liquid from each shell and washed it down with the crisp taste
of the wine, I lost the empty feeling and began to be happy and to make plans,” wrote Ernest
Hemingway in A Moveable Feast. Likewise, if you enjoy drinking wine and pairing it to enhance
flavors, then as you happily make plans for your next charter experience be sure and include
special wines to help you savor the tastes of the sea and the thrill of the journey.
Wine is a unique beverage that not only makes us happy, but if paired appropriately, can
intensify the flavors of food and augment experiences. For instance, sitting on the aft deck
eating appetizers as you watch the sun setting into the distant horizon is a magical experience.
Toasting that sunset with a delicious glass of wine or champagne complements the magic.
Because everyone has a unique palate, this article is not to describe which specific wines to
pair with which dishes, it is only to suggest that including bottles that are special to you and
enjoyable to your palate are important items to pack or pre-order for an even better yachting
Depending on where you are headed, you may have an excellent selection of wines to choose
from as you pre-provision or once you reach your destination. If that is the case, you can view
a pre-provision list and select several bottles to suit your needs. However, some tropical areas
have limited selections of wine options and if that is the case, you should pack a wine suitcase
with careful thought.
Just as you plan your wardrobe for your charter, your wine selection should include a variety of
bottles to align with your arrangements. Because luggage restrictions may necessitate limiting
the amount of wine you can carry, you should also prioritize your preferences. To transport your
treasures, there are several options for ensuring your wine makes it safely to your destination.
Google “wine travel cases” and dozens of options pop up; from expensive hard cases to
reasonably priced soft sided cases with foam inserts, to purchasing just the foam inserts to
place in luggage you already own. There are products out there made especially for traveling
How should you prioritize your picks for perfect pairings during your charter? First, think about
the experiences you would like to enhance. If you are commemorating a special event, or if
every day aboard will be an occasion, you should include the wine of celebration, Champagne.
From the moment you peel off the foil, untwist the cage, then pop the cork, you are primed to
party. This effervescent wine sets the scene for a special experience, and isn’t being on a yacht
in the aqua blue sea a truly outstanding occasion? Whether you enjoy a toast with a vintage
Champagne, a sparkling rosé, a Cava, or a flute of Prosecco, bubbly pairs with joy.
If you know ahead of your charter that you will be going to a special restaurant, or enjoying a
beach barbecue, select a special bottle to take to shore with you. Most places either charge a
nominal corkage fee or welcome you bringing a special bottle of wine to enjoy with your meal,
particularly after beginning the evening with one of their special tropical cocktails.
As for enhancing your flavors, depending on your charter you will have input in the provisions
and meals for your adventure, so include wines that to you, make the food taste better. For
example if you know you will be having fresh local fish, find a bottle that is slightly acidic and
crisp such as a Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc, or an unoaked Chardonnay. For spicy dishes,
something slightly sweet will balance the flavors like a Pinot Gris, dry Riesling, or
If you plan to enjoy local seafood but prefer reds, find a less tannic wine like Pinot Noir,
Pinotage, Gamay, or Primitivo. For a delicious compromise, rosé wines of any varietal pair
wonderfully with food, and because you will be in a tropical climate these more robust pink or
coral hued wines are served chilled, making them a refreshing alternative.
For steak night, or grilled surf and turf, enjoy a more full bodied red such as a Cabernet Franc,
Cabernet Sauvignon, a Tempranillo, Syrah, or Sangiovese; but again, there are no rules. If you
prefer a rosé or white with your steak, go for it. Perhaps a rosé from the Provence region of
France, or one made with a fuller bodied red varietal would pair nicely. For some, Champagne
goes well with steak as do other acidic white varieties like Sancerre, since the acid cuts
through the fat so the taste of the meat will not overpower the flavors of the wine.
There are hundreds of thousands of wines on the market in a very wide range of prices. There
are guidelines for pairing wines with food, but ultimately, everybody has their own preferences.
So, as you mindfully plan for your charter vacation, prioritize and pick several bottles of wine
you enjoy to embellish the activities you will encounter on your trip. However, since yacht
charterers are an adventurous bunch, leave open the opportunity to try new varietals and/or
pairings while you traverse the bright blue waters and indulge in the taste of the sea.