Kathie Lee Gifford On Her Love Of Wine And Returning To Carnival Cruise Line

If you've watched Kathie Lee Gifford on the Today Show, you probably know that she is an unabashed fan of wine. And if you're of a certain generation, you most likely also remember her as the spokesperson for Carnival Cruise Line, taking part in dozens of commercials for the cruise line beginning in 1984. She's once-again joined forces with Carnival and this weekend the cruise company announced that all 24 of their ships have begun serving her personal line of red and white GIFFT wines, created in partnership with California-based Scheid Family Wines.

"Growing up in Paris, watching my parents enjoy wine with dinner was one of my earliest memories, and I'm delighted to be in the business right now," Gifford told us in an exclusive interview. "I didn't just want this to be another celebrity wine; It had to be something that I would drink myself and order, and we had to keep it to less than $20 per bottle."

And it appears she's succeeded.  The GIFFT Red Blend (merlot, petite sirah, syrah, and petit verdot) received 91 out of a possible 100 points by Wine Enthusiast and the Chardonnay received 88.

"It's a kick in the pants to be working with Carnival again. I was an unlikely person to get the gig in the first place," she reminisced. "I think I was about the eighth person in line, and they got me by default when nobody else was available. But I've had nothing but great memories with Carnival, and I'm not one to burn bridges. So I called Mick [Micky Arison, Carnival's chairman] and told him that I wanted to be involved again, but in a different way, and he immediately agreed."

Gifford plans on releasing a rosé in the spring, and assured us that she's "in it for the long haul."

"The only problem with this wine is that it's too easy to open, and too hard to put down," she said.