Wine Voyages with Wine Director Ida Dønheim
SeaDream: How did you become interested in wine?
Ida: My interest for wine started from my passion for cooking. Being a chef, I found it natural to have a knowledge for wine as well, to be able to compose a perfect meal and with the best combinations.
SeaDream: We also understand that you are a chef, tell us about you love for cuisine.
Ida: Growing up, I spent a lot of time with my grandmother, whom I’m named after. She was an excellent cook and some of my best childhood memories came from her kitchen table. At the age of 13, I started working in at local hotel establishment, in the kitchen doing the dishes.
I have always been driven to complete tasks fast, so getting the dishes done took no time. Because of that, I got to help out preparing veggies etc. I started to climb up the ladder, learning new skills and acquiring new responsibilities. I loved it, it was a lot of fun and my passion started to grow. I was really fascinated by the atmosphere and the drive in the kitchen, so at the age of 14-15 I knew I wanted to be a chef.
SeaDream: What are your thoughts about food and wine pairing – any favorite combinations?
Ida: Wine is the perfect match for food, and there is a reason why.
Wine contains matching aromas, acidity, tannins and alcohol; qualities that all have a positive effect on certain types of ingredients and flavors. When pairing food and wine, the easiest way to start is with some basics. If you have a delicate ingredient, like for instance lobster, you need a wine that is also delicate in its style. They need to be equally “concentrated”. If not, they will compete with each other. You also need to find matching aromas. If you enjoy your lobster tail with some beurre noisett, you would like to have for instance a Montrachet, a Chardonnay with a bit of buttery notes as well – just delicious!
This is a BIG topic, I will share some more tips and combinations in future posts.
SeaDream: What is your favorite, “go to” wine for a relaxed evening with friends?
Ida: That depends a bit of the season, time of year. Summer, a nice bottle of rose. A chilly autumn/winter evening in Norway, a charming bottle of red. But… you can never go wrong with champagne! It is suitable for every occasion.
SeaDream: Is there one country that, in your opinion, consistently produces the best wines?
Ida: Today, the wine industry is developing fast. We are getting more and more high quality producers, in regions where they previously were known for producing bulk wine, or a wine of poor quality. But thanks to knowledge and new technology, we consumers can now enjoy beautiful wines from almost every corner of the world.
Taste is personal, and I favor a style of a colder fruit in the wine, versus originating from regions where it takes a bit longer for the grape to mature. If the grapes have time to mature slowly with big changes in day and night temperature, you will have colder and more elegant fruit in the wine. That’s my style!
To point out just one country, is difficult. For instance, the best sparkling wines without a doubt, comes from France. Some of the best white wines in the world come from Germany and Red wine–Italy, France, Spain.
SeaDream: What’s the main difference between sparkling wines and Champagne?
Ida: First of all, Champagne comes from the region of Champagne, France. It is a sparkling wine made after the ‘champagne method’, or Methode Champenoise. To sum it up easily, it is a wine that has had a second fermentation in the bottle. In Champagne, there are many rules and regulations regarding the production; what grapes are allowed, what is the minimum time aging your champagne in the cellar on “the lies” after the second fermentation, level of dosage, etc. etc. I can go on talking about champagne for hours… So if you want to learn all about it, join me on one of our Champagne Cruises!
There are many sparkling wines made after the Methode Champenoise. For instance; Cremante, Cava, and Franciacorta. They have a different character than champagne, since they are produced with a different grape variety, in a different climate, and in different terroir, and also with different rules and regulations. Then we also have Prosecco, Frizzante, Spumante etc. etc. That is a sparkling wine, where gas has been added in the wine, to create the bubbles. You might say in a fun way, that that it is the Soda Stream of the “Champagne World”. So when you taste a sparkling wine, made after the champagne method and a sparkling wine where gas has been added, you will feel and experience a great difference in how the bubbles behave and feel like. Also, you will not have the classical champagne aromas, the bread, brioche, the nutty notes, which comes after being aged on “the lies”, the sediments after the second fermentation.
SeaDream: Becoming a wine connoisseur can seem daunting to some people. How would you recommend someone ease their way into the world of wine?
Ida: The most important thing is to get an understanding of the differences between the grapes, and then eventually countries and regions. So I always recommend when you enjoy a wine, take one or two minutes to look at the label, what grape variety is it, where does it come from, what does it smell like and what does it taste like? That way you start to build up a library of what the specific character of the grape is, the region etc., but most importantly what you personally appreciate the most.
SeaDream: How did you become interested in SeaDream Yacht Club?
Ida: That was a bit by coincidence. When I first heard of SeaDream Yacht Club, I was currently working as a General Manager of a Boutique Hotel in Norway, and one evening, I think it was in November, I was having a guided tour of the hotel and the museum with one of our guests who was a journalist there to write an article about the hotel. I was asking him a bit about where he had been previously, and he told me that he was just on a vacation on SeaDream Yacht Club, and said; “If you ever consider going on a cruise, this is the one. It is just amazing”. A couple of months later, the opportunity and position as Wine Director for the company came up.
SeaDream: What’s your favorite thing to do on a Mediterranean voyage? Do you have a favorite port?
Ida: When we visit the Mediterranean, there’s a lot of history to absorb in each port, and it is just amazing. But, my favorite port and thing to do is to take a walk up to the Splendido Hotel. Just to relax on the terrace, enjoy a glass of Pink Bellini and the amazing view of SeaDream by anchor. It is a stunning view, and the surroundings are amazing. Portofino is just picturesque!
SeaDream: Tell us about SeaDream’s Wine Voyage program.
Ida: Every voyage with SeaDream is a culinary voyage; a food and wine voyage like no other. The culinary level onboard our ships are truly amazing. I’m quite picky when it comes to food experiences, since I have worked at different restaurants, such as a 3-star Michelin restaurant. But the chefs onboard never stop to impress! What they prepare everyday, for breakfast, lunch and dinner is brilliant. And excellent food demands excellent wines as well, so the Sommelier onboard offers premium-selected wines.
But on a wine voyage we take this even further. The wine voyages are specially designed to enhance your culinary yachting experience. It is a perfect occasion for developing an extra passion for food and wine. Experience complimentary exclusive wine tastings, where our visiting winemaker’s share their history, passion and legacy, and their beautiful noble wines.
On the Winemaker’s dinner, SeaDream’s talented chefs prepare a unique menu, and rare and exclusive vintages will follow the menu. This is a unique opportunity to sample exquisite wines and pairings.
For food and wine lovers, a SeaDream Wine Voyage is definitely the perfect vacation!
SeaDream: What special wine-focused Yachting Land Adventures will Wine Voyage guests look forward to? Do you have a favorite?
Ida: Many! Each voyage is unique, since we are visiting different ports. But one of my favorites is visiting Montalcino and Fattoria dei Barbi, one of the oldest wineries famous for producing Super Tuscans. And Montalcino is such a charming hill top village, with a stunning view of surrounding vineyards, and with many excellent wine shops!
SeaDream: Tell us about some of the notable winemakers joining the program for 2017.
Ida: I can proudly say that the winemakers joining in 2017 are truly amazing, with a long and interesting history, and have some of the best wines of the world.
- Weingut Groebe, awarded with producing the best white wine in the world.
- Stag’s Leap, winning the famous cabernet tasting in Paris in 1976.
- Tenuta Del Guido Sassicaia, the best of Super Tuscans.
- Bollinger and Taittinger Champagne
SeaDream and Champagne is just a perfect match!
SeaDream: Do guests need to have a deep understanding of wines to enjoy a SeaDream Wine Voyage? Will non-wine enthusiasts also enjoy these voyages?
Ida: The wine voyages are perfect for all kinds of wine lovers: For those with a deep understanding, and for those who would like to develop their newfound passion.
The winemakers, in addition to myself, will be onboard the yachts together with the guests, and the guests are welcome to have a private wine conversation any time, with the winemaker or me.