Wine for high flyers.
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.