When it comes to choosing an airline, any wine enthusiast should be sure to take two things into consideration: whether the airline serves wine, and, if so, the quality of the vino being served. Because these two questions are very important to the oenophiles at wine.net, we have reached out to our sources and researched this fascinating and useful topic for you.
After speaking with several wine experts and sommeliers, we have not only compiled a list of the airlines with the best wines, but also which vintages to choose when patronizing said airlines. Whether you are a seasoned travel veteran with thousands of frequent flyer miles, certified aviophobe, or first-time flyer, be sure to consult this list before boarding your plane. We guarantee it will make any journey through the friendly skies even friendlier!
American Airlines (Fort Worth, Texas) kindly tweeted us a link to their wine selection, which provided a wealth of useful information. American has “stocked [their] flights with wines custom-designed to best fit your particular destination and complement [their] in-flight menus. Each vintage undergoes a rigorous selection process, [which is] all part of our award-winning wine program.” Additionally, “all alcoholic beverages are complimentary in First and Business Class. Enjoy a mimosa before takeoff, then pair your favorite beverage with one of our flavorful meals to enhance your dining experience.” American’s selections include First Press Chardonnay from Napa, California, Louis Roederer Brut Vintage from Champagne, France, Flagstone Noon Gun Sauvignon Blanc from Western Cape, South Africa, and Ca Bolani Prosecco from Italy.
South African travel expert, radio personality, DJ, and wine aficionado Stephanie Be tells us that Etihad Airways (Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates) serves excellent wine in business class.
- First on Ms. Brown’s list was Emirates (Dubai, United Arab Emirates), which features bottles including a 2004 Dom Perignon, 2011 Domaine du Vieux Telegraphe, and 2012 Y de Yquem. According to Ms. Brown, “this is the wine list with the most wines that you would see on lists that are really respected, those I would see on wine programs in New York City, or that I would have on my list.”
- Next on Brown’s list was Qatar Airways (Doha, Qatar), which showcases bottles such as King Brut Grand Cuvee Champagne and a 1999 Lanson Brut Champagne.
- Third was Thai Airways (Bangkok, Thailand), whose 2013 Pascal Jolivet Pouilly Fume highly impressed Ms. Brown.
- Next on her list is Korean Air (Seoul, South Korea), which features a 2002 PJ Belle Epoque Blanc de Blanc. Ms. Brown says that “Korean, over wines on Virgin or Air New Zealand, focused on old world regions, classic regions, and classic styles of wine, as opposed to new world styles and more mass-produced brands.”
- Concluding her list is Singapore Airlines (Changi, Singapore), whose wine list “was one of the few lists that really kind of had a focus on Burgundy, which…is the most popular, and most heralded and expensive region currently on the market.”
Sophie-Claire Hoeller is a travel reporter and wine contributor for Business Insider. To learn more, visit www.businessinsider.com/author/sophie-claire-hoeller or @Sohostyle on Twitter.
Wine expert and travel writer Michael Cavanagh (@Mike_Cavanagh79) also provides insight into the airlines with the best wines:
- He began by recommending Qantas Airlines (Sydney, Australia), explaining that this airline “maintains over 60 selections from Australia alone, ensuring guests will have plenty of options, no matter the route.”
- He also recommends Air New Zealand (Auckland, New Zealand), which offers a Wild Earth 2008 Pinot Noir, a Matariki 2007 Syrah, and a Coopers Creek Reserve 2009 Late Harvest Riesling.
- Third on Mr. Cavanagh’s list is Malaysia Airlines (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia), which features Spanish, French, Australian, and German selections, including a 2007 Emilio Moro Ribera del Duero and a 2010 Dr. L Kabinett Feinhard Riesling.
- Mr. Cavanagh seconds Ms. Brown’s recommendation of Qatar Airways, which includes selections from France, Italy, Germany, Australia, New Zealand, and Portugal. Some of their best offerings are a 1999 Laurent Perrier Champagne and a 1974 Kopke Colheita Port.
- Finally, Mr. Cavanagh also praised the selection of American Airlines, which “carefully selects its wines to coincide with the journey’s end.”
Mike Cavanagh is a Baltimore-based wine and travel writer. Learn more at www.examiner.com/wine-travel-in-baltimore/michael-cavanagh or @Mike_Cavanagh79 on Twitter.
Lottie Gross (@lortusfleur), Assistant Editor at @RoughGuides, freelance journalist, and member of @travwriters, told our team that “it’s got to be Air France (Paris, France), hasn’t it?” With a bevy of custom selected champagnes and cocktails, we couldn’t agree more!
Travel expert, chef, and holistic nutritionist Carolyn Scott Hamilton (@HealthyVoyager) had the following to say about the airlines with the best wines: “I would say it’s a tie between Delta (Atlanta, Georgia) and Virgin (San Francisco, California). I think they have a nice variety and selection. I’ve also seen Virgin offer organic wine before.”
Luxury travel expert Gary Leff (@garyleff) tells us that “Singapore [Airlines] has a pressurized room to simulate flight while tasting/choosing. Plus, [they have] both Dom [Perignon] and Krug [champagnes]. I happen to be a fan of Qantas [Airlines], but I am partial to Australian wines. I would definitely say Singapore for the top spot, though.”