As seen on Girls of TO
Winter is here and let’s be honest, we all spend a few hours a day scrolling through Expedia and wishing we were somewhere warmer. North Americans are big fans of the all-inclusive vacation and with 2 weeks vacation a year, these holiday options make sense.
I have been lucky enough to go on 3 all-inclusives in the past 13 months, only recently returning from my last one, the perfect Jamaican honeymoon. Although there are many factors that differentiate these resorts, one I notice most is the house wine and house spirits. While my mother always said, ‘You can tell the quality of a restaurant by the vessel they serve your tea in,’ I believe the same is true for hotel and resorts – You can tell the quality of a venue by their house wines and spirits.
My husband and I honeymooned at Sandals Grande Rivera in Ocho Rios, Jamaica. We had heard awesome things about Sandals and we were not let down. I could go on about all the amazing things we experiences but as this is a wine column, let’s focus on that.
Unfortunately, most of my experience with house wines on all-inclusive vacations has been negative. You usually get a choice of a vinegary white or a tart red- both label less. Therefore, I was pleasantly surprised that the house wine of choice was Stone Cellars by Beringer. The resort offered a choice of Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon for red and Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc for white. Not only were these included in your meal, each room came with a variety of spirits (750 mL) and two full bottles of Stone Cellar: one red and one white. There was always a full bottle on hand, which was convenient to say the least.
In case you aren’t aware of these wines, they are Californian varietals available at the LCBO for $13.95. The chardonnay is creamy and only mildly oaky, tasting of vanilla and tropical fruit. The Cabernet Sauvignon was well balanced, fruity and rich. It tasted of chocolate, dark fruit with hints of vanilla- (It was the wine I consumed most over the week.) The Sauvignon Blanc was tart, citrusy and short while the merlot was medium bodied and fruity with a spicy finish. These wines are not exceptional but they are drinkable, characteristic of their grape and very approachable. Would I choose these wines at home? Perhaps as a 2nd or 3rd string for those nights that extend beyond wine appreciation.
I was happy to see this brand as the standard wine throughout this particular resort. One cannot argue that Stone Cellar by Beringer creates well-priced, tasty, drinkable California wines and was one of the many details that made Sandals Grande Rivera the perfect honeymoon all-inclusive.
Stay tuned for next week when Girls of TO explores all-inclusive cocktails.