Thursday, August 1, 2013

Top Five In-Flight Wine Programs

This story was first published on Forbes Travel Guide

There are plenty of perks that come with a business class seat, but one of the trendiest may just be a world-class wine list. Now, you can swirl, sniff and sip fine wines hand selected by sommeliers for maximum enjoyment at 30,000 feet. Sit back and relax with these five carriers that offer top in-flight wine programs featuring exceptional wines from their home country and around the world.

Master Sommelier Andrea Robinson taste tests every wine selected for Delta’s Winemaker Series at altitude to ensure the flavor and experience is as good in-flight as it is on the ground. Wines served in Business Elite include ultra-premium California labels such as Joseph Drouhin Saint-Veran and El Coto de Imaz Rioja Reserva, which are paired with star chef Michael Chiarello’s seasonal menu of dishes like pancetta-wrapped beef tenderloin.

Air New Zealand
Awarded the 2012 Cellar in the Sky award for Best-Presented Business Class Wine List, Air New Zealand provides an in-flight wine guide to Business Class passengers that details the country’s wine regions and wineries, along with profiles of the airline’s wine consultants. Pairings showcase the unique flavors of New Zealand (local lamb, beef or salmon) paired with wines such as Grasshopper Rock 2010 Pinot Noir and Cloudy Bay 2004 Chardonnay. Post meal, passengers can hit the sweet spot with a glass of Forrest Botrytised 2011 Riesling (each month features a different roster with select wines on each flight).

Finnair has a long history of earning accolades for their Business Class wine selections. The most recent prize, from the annual Cellars in the Sky awards, went to the airline’s port wine selection, Niepoort Colheita (1998, Douro, Portugal). While Finnair focuses on delivering the finest wine and food parings, they also aim to select wines that can be enjoyed for their own merits. Standouts include Joseph Perrier CuvĂ©e Royale Brut Non-Vintage Champagne, San Polo Brunello di Montalcino 2005, and Gerard Bertrand Reserve Especiale Chardonnay from the legendary soils of the Languedoc in the South of France.

Air Canada 
Air Canada believes in supporting the Canadian wine industry and features Canadian wines as part of their onboard wine program. In 2012, more than 70,000 bottles were purchased from Canadian wineries. Fly Air Canada now in its Executive Class and you’ll have the chance to sip a Riesling produced by Henry of Pelham from the Niagara region.

In a special partnership with the Okanagan Wine Festivals Society, Canadian airline Westjet’s new regional carrier, Encore, is highlighting wines of the Okanagan Valley. This summer passengers will be offered wines exclusive to the Okanagan region, including Gray Monk Estate, Perseus Winery, and Blasted Church Vineyards on July flights and Road 13 Vineyards, See Ya Later Ranch, and Inniskillin Okanagan Estate Winery, on August flights.

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