On­bOard guests are cu­ri­Ous and will­ing tO ex­plOre

Onboard Hospitality - - In Conversation -

Air Canada’s som­me­lier, Véronique Rivest, ex­plains how to en­sure your on­board drinks menu keeps up with chang­ing tastes

Nu­mer­ous stud­ies have pointed to how our senses can be af­fected by the air­craft cabin en­vi­ron­ment. The al­ti­tude, drier air and noise can make wines taste less fruity, sharper and more tan­nic so it's im­por­tant to look for wines with great bal­ance.

Wines that are well made and har­mo­nious tend to taste bet­ter in the air. I also avoid wines that are too high in al­co­hol which in­creases de­hy­dra­tion. Bal­anced wines, with­out too much oak, over­ripe fruit or ex­ces­sive al­co­hol, are also less tir­ing and more food-friendly.

For ev­ery new Air Canada wine list I seek in­spi­ra­tion from Chef Hawksworth's menus. Over­all food friend­li­ness is a key fac­tor in all wine choices and, wher­ever pos­si­ble, the spe­cific traits of a wine are matched to in­di­vid­ual menu items. But the wines have to be ver­sa­tile as menu and wine list changes do not al­ways co­in­cide.

I also seek va­ri­ety so our five In­ter­na­tional Busi­ness Class wines are all from dif­fer­ent coun­tries and dif­fer­ent va­ri­eties. Air Canada serves more than 200 air­ports on six con­ti­nents so it's only right we re­flect that. The world of wine is so vast and part of the fun is ex­plor­ing and dis­cov­er­ing new flavours.

Au­then­tic­ity is key

Guests are not only more knowl­edge­able about wine but cu­ri­ous and will­ing to ex­plore so I aim for a bal­ance of clas­sic and lesser-known wines and of course to in­clude one of our great Cana­dian wines.

Au­then­tic­ity and re­spect for the en­vi­ron­ment also play a ma­jor role so my pref­er­ence is for wines that are a re­flec­tion of ter­roir rather than of very ma­nip­u­la­tive wine­mak­ing. Right now, we are fea­tur­ing a chardon­nay from Tawse win­ery in On­tario. It's one of Canada's top winer­ies, pro­mot­ing or­ganic and bio­dy­namic farm­ing, and pro­duces quintessen­tially Cana­dian wines that we love to show­case.

And from the tra­di­tional south­ern French re­gion of Ca­hors, the birth place of the mal­bec grape, we are fea­tur­ing Le Com­bal from the highly-re­garded CosseMaison­neuve, a leader in bio­dy­nam­ics.

Wine is in­creas­ingly im­por­tant in the on­board of­fer, as guests' in­ter­est in wine is in­creas­ing. They ask more questions now and give more feed­back. An air­line can­not just of­fer a list of ho-hum wines. Con­sumers have be­come very dis­cern­ing and we plan on keep­ing their in­ter­est piqued with a se­lec­tion of high qual­ity, au­then­tic and di­verse wines, which taste great on­board!

Air Canada's culi­nary part­ner, Chef David Hawksworth and som­me­lier, Véronique Rivest

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