Wine & Culinary Features
TEMPT YOUR TASTEBUDS IN EUROPE
Sure, beer may be what most people think of when dreaming of their German river cruise, but the fertile valleys of the Moselle River are as rich as the country's sausages, spaetzli, and strudels — and they yield some of the world’s best wines. While you may be familiar with crisp, sweet Rieslings, you’ll learn so much more first-hand than you expected: the different flavor profiles of early versus late harvest, growth methods, even which glass goes with what. No matter what, there’s something for the most novice and experienced wine drinker on your cruise.
German wines are as diverse as the country’s landscape, and each has its own charming personality. What the vintages of the Mosel do share: a fragrance evoking spring blooms, pale coloration, and a light body with a fruity, refreshing acidity. They are also just slightly effervescent in many cases. The vineyards covering the slopes of the riverbanks are planted at gradients of up to 70 degrees, and many of the grapes are lovingly picked by hand.
So delicious it’s mentioned in Hungary’s national hymn, esszencia, a style of Tokaji Aszu dessert wine, was named the “wine of kings and king of wines” by the royal families of Europe. Pronounced toh-KAI ah-SOO, fans of this sweet, viscous varietal span the world and include Louis XIV, the imperial court of Russia, and Thomas Jefferson. For those who prefer a drier white wine, furmints in Hungary are also well-respected among sommeliers and amateur connoisseurs alike.
Home to Riedel-brand wine glasses, some of the most sought-after in the world, Austria is also home to some of excellent vintages in their own right. The most beloved? Many hail from the UNESCO-listed Wachau Valley, where you’ll have a wine-pairing dinner onboard after your scenic sailing, admiring this stretch of the Danube River and its rolling hills, fortresses, and vineyards.
Nothing enhances wine like good company — and delicious cuisine. Onboard your river ship, you’ll be treated to delicious regional specialties, and culinary demonstrations in the Captain’s Club include lots of take-home recipes (and memories!) for you with special hands-on tastings and talks. On this cruise, you’ll savor beer-braised pork ribs; spaetzli; braised-beef roulade; Tiroler gröstl
(an Alpine fried dish of bacon, onion, potato and egg); and much more.
Satisfy your sweet tooth without anything that’s too cloying on this cruise, both on and offboard ship. Dessert wines are both heady but well-balanced, and onboard apfelstrudel makes the fruit and flaky crust — not a boatload of sugar — the star of the show. In Vienna, the towering Sacher Torte is among the country’s most renowned specialties, and its myriad layers of sponge cake are balanced by apricot jam, and a rich chocolate ganache. Enjoy one in your free time, or perhaps seek out one of Hungary’s most delectable desserts at Ruszwurm Café, where the pastry case is filled with epic confections. It’s just a short walk from Fisherman’s Bastion in the Castle District, so whether you’ve walked or biked up, there’s an opportunity to treat yourself as a reward!
Food For Thought
Sometimes the best culinary experiences aren’t white-napkin affairs, but simple food, pleasant conversation, and lively entertainment. In Austria, one of the most remarkable — and a great way to immerse yourself in local culture on one of our enriching optional tours — is the Heurigen tradition. Literally meaning “this year’s wine,” this is the name given to dinners in eastern Austria, where local wine producers serve the newest fruit of their labors. You’ll be able to savor other regional products while sipping, including meats and cheeses, and there’s also lively traditional local music in these tavern-like settings.