Airlines serve between 200,000-800,000 bottles in the sky each year? Sound crazy? You're right, that's just champagne. The number goes to well over a million when you add in red, white and dessert wine. It's seriously big business. If you're going to invest you've gotta get it right, and like something out of a futuristic science fiction flick, Singapore Airlines have a pressurized room on the ground just for wine tastings, simulating the air and experience found at 38,000 feet. It tastes different up there. The travel industry is extremely focused on luxury, and one thing that pairs extremely well with luxury travel, is food and wine. Here are the airlines offering the most expensive and or most highly regarded wines around the world...
I think it would be far more interesting if Air France wasn't considered among the top. Speaking of the best, Air France have enlisted the exclusive services of Paolo Basso, arguably the world's greatest sommelier, to curate their First "La Premiere" and Business Class selections. Focusing predominantly on wines from, well, you guessed it, France, like Krug Grand Cuvee and Saint-Emilion 1er Grand Cru Classé 2008, Paolo has created a menu to be reckoned with, if you have a preference for French wine.
If you go to the trouble to build a pressurized room just to taste wine, you better imagine there are some serious bottles being cracked open. Singapore offers some of the world's most prestigious selections in both first and business, with everything from vintage Dom Perignon 2004, to classic Bordeaux and Burgundy's like a 2007 Domaine Faiveley Corton and fan favorite Australian 2010 St. Hallett Faith Shiraz. With wines at no less than $50 a bottle in the front cabin and often much more, let's hope it tastes just as good at 38,000 feet.
For a country which is predominantly (but not entirely) dry, Qatar Airlines has made an incredible investment in grapes. Known as one of the world's premier five star airlines, you would assume a heavyweight wine list and you would be correct. James Cluer, a master of wine with international roots, curates one of the most internationally prestigious wine programs in the air, featuring fantastic selections such as Taittinger Prestige Rose from France, Petit Clos Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand and Errázuriz Don Maximiano Founders Reserve 2009 Cabernet from Chile.
You can trust that the wine on an airline where the corporate director of inflight service throws nuts at a cabin crew member for serving them in a pack instead of a glass bowl will be superb. Korean Airlines very cleverly aims to separate itself from the pack by opting for more scarcely sourced old world wines and varietals. Very traditional, very famous, very delicious. Expect Pol Roger Brut to start, an old world bordeaux such as a Chateau Beychevelle 2006 or the rare Ghost Block Napa Cabernet. Let's just hope they bring the right glasses...
From the land down under comes enough good wine to put any connoisseur under the table. I love that Qantas focuses its wine menu on highlights from its native Australia. Sure, I suppose like Air France it's almost not fair. I mean, Qatar nor Singapore are very famous for producing any earth shattering wines but anyway, fair or not, it's a fantastic statement of pride in your country and a budding wine region. Enjoy Australian staples like the Wirra Wirra RSW Shiraz 2010 or the Scorpo Estate Pinot Gris 2011. Delicious.
From the airline that ran the most pretentious commercial in aviation history, comes one of the most wonderful wine lists in the sky. Emirates famously serves Dom Perignon in greater quantity than water, and of course if you watched the Jennifer Anniston commercial, you know they also have a bar on their A380's. Emirates wine lists are based on the selections found in many of the most famous fine dining restaurants throughout the world including the super Tuscan cult classic Antinori Solaia 2008. The best part? They even have a wine list specific to your flight and cabin you can search online at the bottom of this page.
Wine is fun. There is a never ending amount of mysticism, lore and romance behind every great bottle. I've had the opportunity to sample some of the greatest wines in history, not on my tab of course, and for better or worse, it's a fantastic experience discovering what's out there. If you can do it for free using miles, sitting at 33,000 feet, that's not a bad way to be.
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