If you travel frequently and you like wine, like me, you will be anticipating the wine selection on your flight. Sometimes it is a delightful surprise, otherwise a dire disappointment. CNN calls people like us Oeno-flyers! As they say: “They’ll book longer flights for a better wine list.”
What wines you are offered while skimming the clouds, of course depends on a few factors:
- The airline you are flying with
Do you choose an airline based on the cost, luxury or perhaps the wine list? Travel and Leisure’s top airlines list are based on reader surveys and collected data on a host of parameters including cabin comfort, in-flight service, customer service, value, food, and loyalty programs.
Conde Nast Traveller agrees to a large extend:
- Qatar (with a top pick South African Cederberg Private Cellar Chenin Blanc 2013)
- Etihad (another South African white makes it as top pick! Klein Steenberg Sauvignon Blanc 2014)
- Who select the wines
Among allegations in 2015 about SAA wine tenders being rigged, I am delighted to see that respected South African sommelier, Migual Chan facilitated the 2016 SAA on board wine selection. According to him, some of the unique aspects to take into consideration when selecting wine for an airline, are among others to steer clear of excessive acidity, alcohol and tannin as these are accentuated in the air.
- Where you sit on the plane
Unfortunately for economy passengers, the first class and business class passengers do not only have more leg space, they also get served better wines! Economy class passengers usually receive their wine in 187 ml PET bottles and the selection is usually limited and more commercial than what is served in business or first class.
Stemware also differ with your seating arrangement! First and business class passengers can usually enjoy their wine from a proper – sometimes even crystal – glass, while economy passengers again faces the plastic option.
- Flying with wine
Enjoying a glass of wine in the air is one thing, taking some wine back home with you from your glorious holiday destination or adding a few bottles to your luggage on your way to a wine show, is a different story.
Regulations on carrying liquids on aircraft changed drastically after the 2006 transatlantic aircraft plot. Prior to this, we easily took a box with 6-bottles as part of our hand luggage, but today taking liquids on board is generally limited to 100 ml volumes. Checking in your wine purchases can also cost you an arm and a leg. So what would be the best way of getting your wine across?
- How many? Make sure you comply with relevant custom regulations.
- How to pack. We would like to believe that our luggage is treated with the utmost care, but the reality is quite different. Ensure bottles are bottle-wrapped and firmly packed between your clothes and other soft items. Also see: How to fly with wine like a pro
- Get it online! That is a note to wine estates and buyers alike. For wine estates – no one can afford to not sell online in today’s world. If you are only selling to the local market, make a plan, collaborate with international distributors, but give your international visitors the opportunity to buy your wine online and get it delivered to their homes. To the buyer, use the available online mechanisms to purchase and ship wines and save yourself from travelling with heavy luggage, worrying about customs and the possibility of a complete wardrobe in a light shade of pink!