OnbOard guests are curiOus and willing tO explOre
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