Wines are increasingly critical to the way an airline is perceived, according to Cathay Pacific’s general manger of inflight services. That’s why the airline has a rigorous selection processes, evaluating around 3,000 glasses of wine by appearance, body, character and taste to determine what vintages will thrive at 35,000 feet.
The challenge is that any flaws or problems on the ground get exacerbated by dry cabin air. Also, some wines don’t fare well with the vibrations from air travel and become “bottle shocked,” experts say. It’s often the delicate fruit tones that add a depth and richness to wines that are first to take a hit.
That’s why white wines and champagnes fare better in the air than the more sensitive and delicate reds. Another tip for selecting wines while in-flight: New world wines with their jammier fruits show a little bit better than older world wines, says Doug Frost, master sommelier for United Airlines. But just like on the ground, ultimately it depends on personal tastes, he says.
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