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'Take the mystery out of wine and keep the magic'

Michael Mondavi spread his enthusiasm for wine around Norwegian Escape. Here, interacting with travelers in The Haven (Photo: Anne Kalosh)
In The Cellars, A Michael Mondavi Family Wine Bar, Norwegian Escape cruisers can sip fine wines accompanied by tapas in a sleek but cozy indoor setting or outdoors on The Waterfront.

Plus, both novices and wine enthusiasts can improve their knowledge at intimate tastings that are carefully designed to be accessible and informative. One even involves a taste of sterilized soils to understand what characteristics the soil brings to the grapes.

The goal is to 'take the mystery out of wine and keep the magic,' said the Michael Mondavi, a noted winemaker and key figure in establishing the Napa Valley wine industry. The personable Mondavi spoke with travel agents and media in The Cellars and around the ship during inaugural festivities.

The tastings include Black Glass, Wine Aromas, Riedel; Acid, Tannin, Sugar; and a Wine-Chocolate pairing.

'The brain is stronger than the palate in many ways,' Mondavi said, explaining the Black Glass tasting. Tasting the wine in a glass where the color can't be seen 'forces us to use our taste and smell,' he continued. 'Your olfactory sense tells your brain what it is, rather than your brain telling your olfactory sense. This also increases your confidence in your sense of taste and smell.'

The Black Glass tasting involves five wines and is priced at $14.95. There's also a Wine Aromas class ($19.95), a Reidel session that demonstrates how the style of glasses influence the taste of wine, with a set of three Riedel glasses to keep ($89.95), and an Acid, Tannin, Sugar session ($14.95). A Wine and Chocolate pairing ($14.95) is the favorite so far, according to cellar master Michael Arcena.

The tastings are designed for eight people but can be arranged for 16 or a private group of 20.

The Cellars' wine list features 35 grape varietals including top selections from Tuscany’s Ornellaia and Michael Mondavi’s own Napa Valley Estate. Among the Mondavi selections are Emblem, M by Michael Mondavi and Animo cabernet sauvignons.

The small plates, available for purchase on an a la carte basis, come from one of 'Iron Chef' José Garces' venues on Norwegian Escape, Pincho Tapas Bar. Choices include calamari, lamb wrapped in bacon with creamy onion sauce and spicy crab salad on toast.