During a recent sailing aboard the Disney Fantasy, we decided to book Palo dinner following our day in St Maarten, which happened to be my wife’s birthday (and Pirate Night). At some point late last year, Palo began to offer guests a Esperienza del Vino (wine pairing) option. We saw that it was available on the Disney Magic following her re-imagination, but were unable to try it as we only had brunch during those sailings. Needless to say, my wife was eager to try the new pairing menu.
We arrived a bit early, so after checking in we hung out in Meridian. Right around six o’clock, we were seated and met our excellent server for the evening, Vicky. As I mentioned, Emily knew ahead of time she wanted to try the wine pairing experience, and since I am still living in the semi-sweet wine phase (thankfully nearing the end) I opted for the tradition a la carte menu items.
Vicky returned with the bread service and the cheese cart… err.. sorry, Remy on my mind, the antipasto cart, and placed a little bit of everything on our plate which was then topped off with a drizzling of aged balsamic vinegar.
After looking at a couple versions of the Palo Esperienza del Vino menu from across the Disney Cruise Line fleet, the only difference I found to date has been the vintage of the particular wines. In fact, the vintage served during our dinner was not necessarily what was printed on the menu. Below I attempted to provide links to the various wines.
The first course begins with a pour of the Ferrari Brut NV which is paired with Tuna Carpaccio and Lemon Oil Dressing.
Emily’s comments: This was a delicious pairing, as the sparkling drier brut paired well with the tuna. It brought out the lemon flavors well.
Course numero two is a Grilled Portobello Mushroom and Polenata dish paired with a glass of Summus Castello Banfi 2010.
Emily’s note: This was another delicious pairing, as the flavors played off of each other very well. Enjoyable.
The third course begins with a glass of Cervaro della Sala Antinori 2008 followed by Lobster and Mascarpone Ravioli.
Emily’s note: This is one of my favorite dishes at Palo, and I was pretty excited to have it in a tasting size. This pairing was my favorite. I detected a nice buttery finish that went along perfectly with the food.
Course number four, Branzino in Cartoccio paired with Planeta Chardonnay 2010.
Emily’s note: This is a nice smooth Chardonnay. It paired well with the dish, but overall, felt this was more of an average wine. It seems versatile and would pair with many dishes; no ‘wow’ factor.
The Esperienza del Vino is far from over, and time for a brief intermission with a refreshing palate cleanse.
The fifth course is the Osso Buco (veal shank) paired with Luce Marchesi Dé Frescobaldi 2010. However, my wife does not eat red meat and requested an alternative which was the Grilled Sea Scallops with Borlotti Beans, a regular Palo menu item, which they brought in the tasting size.
Our wonderful sommelier, Marco, arrived with the Luce, quickly noticed the substitution and suggested an appropriate wine pairing, but Emily did not mind and insisted to stick with the Luce instead of having Marco open a new bottle.
Emily’s note: While the red wine would’ve paired perfectly with the red meat, it was still a delicious, full-bodied red. I enjoyed the scallops, as I am a huge seafood fan, and Palo prepares them excellently.
I am pretty sure Marco had the following reaction after he served the Luce with seafood rather than the intended veal dish.
The sixth and final course is the Tartufo, a homemade ice cream with dark chocolate rolled in hazelnuts. This chocolate delight was paired with a glass of Passito Di Pantelleria Pellegrino 2008.
Emily’s note: I am not a chocolate dessert/ice cream type person, but I am also not picky in the slightest and will try just about anything. I just had a few bites of the ice cream with hazelnuts in order to taste the pairing, and I would say that this was probably my second favorite pairing. It’s sweeter than I usually choose, as it is a moscato (sweet) wine, but that is what a dessert wine typically is – sweet. The wine played off the dark chocolate and the hazelnuts perfectly, as the dessert itself wasn’t too sweet. After about 3 bites, I did bypass the rest to enjoy the tiramisu, as that is my all-time favorite dessert anywhere.
For the encore, a refreshing post dinner Limoncello slush.
Emily’s final note: It’s no secret that I am a huge fan of wine, so this was a completely enjoyable experience for me. The pours aren’t very large, I would say in the 2oz. range, so that totals about 12oz. of wine in total. I didn’t leave tipsy at all. One of my favorite things about this were the small portions of the food, as I would prefer not to leave stuffed. I enjoy the tasting sizes, which is one reason I prefer Remy over Palo. However, this wine pairing completely changed my feelings about Palo dinner and I cannot imagine doing Palo dinner without the wine pairing. As Platinum cruisers, our Palo meal is complementary, so the additional cost doesn’t bother me in the slightest. I am looking forward to our next cruise and having this enjoyable treat again.
The Esperienza del Vino, or wine experience is an extra $59 in addition to the $25 base fee for Palo dinner. There is an additional 15% auto gratuity added to each Esperienza del Vino for the sommelier which calculates to $8.85 making the total per person amount $92.85. As you can see on the receipt below the overall cost of our Palo dinner was offset by our Platinum Castaway Club perk of a free Palo dinner. Please note, the auto gratuity added is only for the Esperienza del Vino portion of the bill, and does not include the additional customary gratuity for your server, and any extra you may want to give your sommelier.
Have you tried the wine pairing at Palo? Did you enjoy the new experience and more specifically what did you think about the additional charge?