Top Flight

Wine for high fly­ers.

Australian House & Garden - - Contents - Toni Pater­son. #

The qual­ity of wines of­fered by in­ter­na­tional air­lines has reached im­pres­sive heights, writes

There is some­thing cel­e­bra­tory about that first sip of wine aboard a plane. Af­ter the mad rush of pack­ing and or­gan­is­ing for a flight, it’s a small yet highly sat­is­fy­ing plea­sure.

For­tu­nately, air­lines are plac­ing an in­creas­ing fo­cus on the qual­ity of bev­er­ages of­fered on flights. It’s now com­mon for them to hire ex­perts to help choose their se­lec­tion, hav­ing re­alised that in­flight of­fer­ings can in­flu­ence de­ci­sion mak­ing when it comes to book­ing with a par­tic­u­lar car­rier.

Amer­i­can Air­lines, for one, re­cently en­hanced its of­fer­ings be­tween Syd­ney and Los Angeles, serv­ing wines more in line with Aus­tralian tastes. Fly­ers can try not only top Aus­tralian drops but also great ex­am­ples from the US and Europe.

Wine can ac­tu­ally taste dif­fer­ent in the air, says ex­pert Ken Chase, con­sul­tant for Amer­i­can Air­lines. Fuller-flavoured wines tend to be more ap­peal­ing than re­strained, del­i­cate styles, he says.

Many air­lines use their wine and food of­fer­ings as a mar­ket­ing tool, pro­mot­ing the best that their home coun­try has to of­fer. Air New Zealand is par­tic­u­larly good at this, show­cas­ing the finest drops from NZ in all its cab­ins.

In 2016, Air France scooped an award for best in­ter­na­tional air­line wine list with a dreamy col­lec­tion from the clas­sic French re­gions. Those for­tu­nate enough to travel at the front of its planes can ex­pe­ri­ence vin­tage Cham­pagne, aged red bordeaux and high-class white bur­gundy.

Sin­ga­pore Air­lines’ wine panel in­cludes Michael Hill-Smith and Jeannie Cho Lee, who both hold the pres­ti­gious Mas­ter of Wine qual­i­fi­ca­tion, as well as wine com­men­ta­tor Oz Clarke. Its list is dis­tinctly in­ter­na­tional, fea­tur­ing pres­tige wines from blue-rib­bon pro­duc­ers.

No mat­ter which end of the plane you sit, you can have a pre­mium ex­pe­ri­ence at home. Just pick up one of the wines be­low, each of which is served in se­lect first- and busi­ness-class cab­ins. Rec­om­mended drops 2016 SHAW+SMITH SAUVIGNON BLANC, $26 A well-loved favourite. In­tense flavours of pas­sion­fruit, pear, le­mon and star fruit. Beau­ti­ful acid­ity and im­pec­ca­ble bal­ance. 2015 JOHN DU­VAL WINES PLEXUS MARSANNE VIOGNIER ROUSSANNE, $30

A savoury, tex­tured palate with great acid drive. Oat­meal, sub­tle stone fruit, le­mon and spice. 2016 LEO BURING LEONAY DW T18 RIES­LING, $40 A text­book Water­vale ries­ling: fine, long and limey, with

in­tense le­mon-blos­som aro­mat­ics. 2013 MARTINBOROUGH VINEYARD HOME BLOCK PINOT

NOIR, $75 Juicy red berry fruit and gen­tle savouri­ness. Great va­ri­etal pinot char­ac­ter and fruit ex­pres­sion.

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