Wine w/meals?

We have been on 3 Tauck tours- all amazing. Most recently on the Christmas Market River Cruise on the Danube. Unlimited Regional Wines were served with dinners - as we would expect with a high end tour company.

We are researching this tour for Oct. 2015, and we read one review that said wine was NOT served with the meals. Is this true? I would think that at $800-900/day per person, that wine would be included. Especially on an Italian trip.

We are also looking into the Rick Steves tour which is only $300/day per person.

Thanks, Terri


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    edited December 2014
    Most Tauck land tours do not include wine apart from the odd dinner, usually the welcome and farewell dinners have wine, maybe a few more. That has always been fine with me, we are not big drinkers and I do not want the price of the tour to rise for those who drink a lot more. The wine included on River cruises is a fairly new thing for Tauck, maybe for the past two or three years, assuming to keep up with companies like Viking. Don't forget the land tours often begin with really early mornings, especially on days when you will be moving to a new hotel. You will have to have your suitcase ready a whole hour before departure time. I'm just saying that this does not often go with more than a couple of drinks the night before, surely that does not cost that much extra for those who want to drink. Drinking for me is low priority to site seeing quality. Admittedly it is nice for us both to have drinks without having to worry about driving, we never drink and drive, so it is nice for a change on the tours. I would love to hear what others think.
    Have all your tours with Tauck been River cruises? We have never done these with them, just land trips oh and Galapagos which does include wine with meals.
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    We aren't big drinkers at all either (we don't buy it or order it out). . . but for $800-$900/per day per person . . . in a city full of wine/Chianti . . . I would think it would be part of the experience . . . all I mean is a glass or two with dinner. For a high-end tour group, I would expect that . . . I would not expect that with Globus, Collette, or other mid-level companies.

    To answer your question . . . we have done 2 land tours & 1 River Cruise.

    Thanks for your input.
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    For interest I looked at a RickSteves tour yesterday, they are not really comparable which I guess reflects the price difference. If you chose them I 'd love to hear how they compare, but I certainly would not want to go in the winter when the price is so low because of the cold and rain in Italy that is more usual at that time of year, I always think of my high school geography and how to remember the Mediterranean climate, hot dry summers, warm wet winters whenever I think of that area of the planet and of course California.
    I Have friends who lived in Italy for a while and they definitely know their Italian wines and happily chug down a whole bottle are two and then happily drive home too. I am such a bore in comparison!
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    I want Tauck Tim to answer this. Tauck paid for wine and beer on my last land tour with them and meals were mostly ala carte . We are doing Scandinavia with Tauck this July and certainly expect it be included there.
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    edited December 2014
    Why don't you call Tauck to ask. sometimes Tim is not around. The Scandinavia tour states that you are responsible for the alcoholic drinks apart from specific meals.
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    We went on 14 day Italy tour in September 2014. I just checked a day to day itinerary that we received at the beginning of the tour and none of the meals specifies wine, but as far as I remember, wine was included in several lunches and several dinners (definitely 1-st and last dinners). It seemed that they like to pleasantly surprise you. In the morning tour director will announce "Wine is Included" with today's lunch or dinner and everyone would applaud. If you order wine in the places where we had dinners with no wine, be prepared to pay 8 to 10 euro a glass (for house wine). Pretty expensive.
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    The wine w/meals certainly isn't a deal maker or breaker for us at all . . . we aren't that big of drinkers anyway. I was mostly curious since it is such a big wine region & such an expensive trip.

    We understand Rick Steves is a totally different experience re: luggage issues and 3-4star hotels instead of 5star. But we have friends who travel often with RS & Tauck and they love and enjoy both. It's just a different experience. They say the guides are just as fantastic and they actually get a better 'feel' for Europe with RS . . . but it is very strenuous and LOTS of walking each day. You do carry your own luggage, & the hotels are more standard European & not high end - but they say that adds to the experience. They say they LOVE both companies . . . you just have to understand the differences. They say the bus travel and food is just as nice as Tauck. They've done different parts of Italy, Austria, Germany, & Spain with both companies . . . so I do trust them. They are early 60s.

    I also work with a Surgeon who normally travels with Tauck and he recently did the 17day RS Italy tour and was pleasantly surprised. These are the only reasons I even looked into RS. I was set on Tauck until he returned and was raving about RS.

    While my heart is with Tauck....I love not dealing with luggage, the nice hotels (even though we are only in them for sleep) . . . I am comparing the 2 trying to decide whether we should take the RS plunge for one trip (just to see). It is A LOT less money & their reviews are as good as Tauck's. We have traveled with Tauck only 3 times and will again December 2016 for the other Christmas Market River Cruise. Our GIFT OF TIME expires for 2015 on January 2 . . . so we need to make a decision about Italy soon . . . our options are TAUCK 8days Venice, Florence, Rome or TAUCK 10 Days Italian Lakes, Venice, Florence, Rome or RS 17Days Italy, or RS Venice, Florence, Rome or RS 14Days Best of Europe . . . I'll let you all know. Tauck will be more than twice as much money for less time . . . . but it's still a tough call for us.
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    Frankly, I think it is hard to compare price when you talk apples and oranges. You would need to compare every facet- airport transfers (sure are nice), quality AND location of lodging, transportation, "guided" time vs "free" time, quality of company and local guides, attraction admission fees, private group tours (e.g. Vatican after hours), surprise side trips,etc., etc., etc. If you are on the fence, make a detailed spreadsheet to compare each.

    That may be nearly impossible if the tour operators offer different features and you are forced to arbitrarily assign a certain value to each. It essentially comes down to a personal decision on what factors are important to you. Both are respectable "for profit" companies. Neither is going to provide something for nothing- they carefully compute their costs, add profit, and come up with a tour price. I don't believe either will ever attempt to over-charge. You might want to add a third option to your comparison- Lindblad/NatGeo, in some cases is more expensive than Tauck is to RS.
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    TLT, your feedback is interesting and helpful. Maybe we would consider a Rick Steves trip in the future, maybe somewhere we have been before in Italy so we could miss out on some of the walks and see things at a slower pace which I would be happy to do if it is so cheap. With Tauck I do hate to miss any of their tour and love the surprises. We would travel with less clothes than ever. I really would like to know the cost of that long ride in from Rome airport for example and all the other extras not included with R S. I certainly enjoy his travel shows.
    Alan, as ever, you put it better than anyone.
    As far as Italy being a great wine region, so are a lot of places Tauck travels, South Africa, France, Australia, New Zealand, Chile, all there on the top for me, even above US wine, sorry you Californians! And I have to say Very few Italian wines have excited me, but as you see by my lack of opportunity to drink out, I am no expert. The two tours I did with Tauck were Rome and the Amalfi Coast and Florence, Tuscany and Umbria which they no longer do but it was fabulous. I have been to Italy independently too.
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    edited January 2015
    British wrote:
    As far as Italy being a great wine region, so are a lot of places Tauck travels, South Africa, France, Australia, New Zealand, Chile, all there on the top for me, even above US wine, sorry you Californians!
    To be fair, British, a Russian River chardonnay is thing of great beauty and joy. A glass of that, when you can find it by the glass, certainly cost me a great deal more than 10 euros the last time I was in California. As Alan says, if your tastes run to commercial, supermarket apples, that's perfectly fine. But if you have ever tasted a rare, heritage, hand-picked variety of apple, that's a different world. It is very difficult to compare the two fruits. Some will only ever see an apple. The result probably depends on your world view.

    Personally, I would query the inclusion of a inferior product or ingredient just to match a pre-determined price point. I much prefer to drink clean and pure water to plonk, just because it's there. I'd rather pay for something drinkable or enjoy that (included) sparkling water! I agree that much of the French (and some Italian) vin ordinaire on offer in Europe is pretty dreadful, British, but if you know what you are looking for you can find some excellent drops ... cheap, cheerful and drinkable!

    I would have thought if you were searching for a special interest, gastronomic and/or wine appreciation tour of Italy, you would be looking at specialist "boutique" tour operators. Tauck do offer some tours with a wine & food emphasis. Check them out!


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    edited January 2015
    Hey folks,

    Sorry I took a while to respond to this! As you might've guessed, our offices were closed for much of the last two weeks for the holidays.
    Anyway, like a few people here have said, wine availability depends on the trip. On Italian Lakes, wine is included on the welcome dinner, at a five-course lunch on the second day, and during the farewell reception on the last night of the trip. Our contracts with the riverboat operators do have free wine included, as several people have noted, but we can't always guarantee that on land trips, especially when setting up meals at restaurants outside of the hotels.

    I hope this helps clarify things!


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