How to build a wine list for your yacht

Yacht Wine Selection: How to Create a Great List

As a luxurious experience, it is natural to expect an impressive wine selection when yachting. However, it has become clear that having a great wine list on board a yacht is rare. While there is no sommelier on board to craft a well-planned list, it is the role of the Chief Steward or Chief Stewardess, who often have multiple duties, to select and manage the wine list. In this article, we will discuss the challenges faced when creating a wine list on a yacht and provide guidelines on how to create a good, balanced, and broad wine selection.

Challenges to Creating a Wine List on a Yacht

There are several reasons why creating a great wine list on a yacht is challenging. Firstly, yachts do not have sommeliers on board. Secondly, crew turnover is frequent, which can lead to incomplete or scattered wine selections. Thirdly, yacht owners may have strict guidelines on which wines to keep on board, making it difficult for the person in charge to make independent decisions. Finally, yachts that are for charter may have separate wine selections for the owner and charter guests, with space and storage being a major concern.

Structuring a Wine List

When creating a wine list, it is essential to structure it in a logical order, echoing the format of the meal. Start with sparkling wines, followed by whites, rosés, reds, and dessert wines. Under each category, the wines should be listed according to their origin. If the yacht has less than ten references each for red and white wines, it is sufficient to list them under the categories “white wine” and “red wine”. For a medium-sized selection, list the wines under their different countries. For extensive ranges, organise the wines by country and region.

Listing Individual Wines

When listing individual wines, consistency is key. Start (or finish) with the vintage, followed by the name of the producer and the region of origin. Simply listing a wine as “Puligny-Montrachet” is not sufficient. Without stating the producer and vintage, it is difficult to determine the quality of the wine.

Creating a Great Wine List

A great wine list should complement the chef's food and be a good representation of the style of cuisine offered. It should have options for many different types of wine drinkers, both regarding price point and style. It must be presented clearly so that it’s easy to navigate for the guest. It must feature wines that are craft products and not made industrially. When all of that is accomplished, it can reach its highest point: a work of passion for a dedicated wine director or sommelier who knows the wines well and loves sharing them with their guests.


In summary, creating a great wine selection on a yacht can be challenging due to several factors. It is important to structure the list in a logical order, list individual wines consistently, and select a broad range of wines that complement the chef's food and suit various palates. While a dedicated wine director or sommelier is not available, the guidelines provided in this article will help to create a wine selection that will please guests on board.

Get in touch and we can help you create a well balanced and thoughtful list for your owner and charter guests alike.

Q1: How do I begin curating a wine list for my yacht?

A: Start with considering the preferences of your guests, their favourite regions, and styles. If you're not certain, select a variety of wines - whites, reds, rosés, and sparklings - from various regions and price points. Include both versatile crowd-pleasers and a few unique options for adventurous palates.

Q2: How many bottles should I stock?

A: The quantity depends on the number of guests, the length of the trip, and how often you host events. A basic guideline could be 1-2 bottles per person per day, split between lunch and dinner. However, it's always better to have a little extra in case of special celebrations or if a particular wine is especially popular.

Q3: What type of wines should be on my list?

A: A balanced list should contain wines for all occasions and meals. This includes light and crisp whites, full-bodied whites, light to medium reds, bold reds, rosés, sparklings, and a selection of dessert wines. It's also good to consider the pairing potential of the wines with the menu onboard.

Q4: Should I consider the origin of the wines I select?

A: Absolutely. Including wines from different countries and regions will offer variety and an opportunity for guests to taste and compare styles from around the world. Also, consider local wines of the regions you'll be sailing to – this adds a touch of local culture to your journey.

Q5: What price range should I aim for in selecting wines?

A: The price range will depend on your budget and the expectations of your guests. A good strategy is to have a range of price points, with the majority falling into a mid-range price that you're comfortable serving as your "house" wines, supplemented with a few higher-end options for special occasions or requests.

Q6: How should I store the wines on the yacht?

A: Correct storage is essential to maintain the quality of the wines. They should be stored in a cool, dark place, ideally in a dedicated wine fridge or cellar. The temperature should be kept constant, ideally between 45-65°F (7-18°C), with 55°F (13°C) being often cited as close to perfect. Wines should also be stored on their sides to keep the corks moist, which prevents them from drying out and letting in air.

Q7: How often should I update the wine list?

A: Updating your wine list depends on how often you sail and the consumption onboard. Generally, reviewing your list every few months allows you to adjust based on guest feedback, introduce new discoveries, and account for wines that may no longer be available or have changed in price. Always remember to taste the wines before adding them to your list!