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The Mile High (Wine Disappointment) Club

Flying back to the States from the U.K. this past weekend, visions of Steelers touchdown passes dancing in my head, something occurred to me.

Actually, a few things occurred to me:

  • Flying West into the sunset (or East into a sunrise) at several thousand feet is a visual treat of unmatched proportions, with the cloud horizon fading gently from burning orange to pink, purple, blue, and finally the star-speckled obsidian black of space. Sort of like the visual equivalent to the flavors in a glass of sublime red wine.
  • Business and First class aside, the wines offered on most airlines totally suck.
At least, this has been my experience.

Not that I haven't had decent wine while flying in an aircraft - it's just that I've onl had decent wine while traveling in First or Business class.

What I don't quite understand is, given the proliferation of very good wine at very low prices, why the stock isn't better. Just because those in coach class are resigned to the fact that they will be herded around like sky-bound cattle doesn't mean that they want to drink like sky-bound cattle.

Not that I'm 100% sure exactly what wine a sky-bound bovine would drink... but let's just agree that it probably wouldn't be a discriminating choice, ok?

International carriers seem to have a leg up (glass up?) in the area of better-than-average in-flight wine offerings.

The venerable UK wine icon Jancis Robinson had been making wine picks for British Airways. Interestingly, some of the best wine choices available mid-flight are offered by airlines operating from countries that are not known for their wine - or so say the results of a 2007 wine competition by Global Traveler (which, also interestingly, only covered Business Class). Tops in that group were Taiwan's EVA, Thai Airways International, and Gulf Air (from the Kingdom of Bahrain). Not exactly powerhouses on the world winemaking stage (at least not yet).

Still, it's not all gloom and doom (and plonk), I suppose. Canadian wine writer Natalie McLean has detailed some of the better in-flight wine options offered (mostly on international long-haul flights), and last year the much maligned US Airways upgraded their wine list.

YOUR experience? Have you had more plonk or more perfection a mile high?

images: travel.webshots.com, tonyrogers.com, popsop.com, tinnong24h.com)


Anonymous said...

I used to bring my own bottle -- complete with corkscrew and Riedel glass -- before that ratfink, bin Laden, made it impossible. Nowadays I've given up on good wine in coach. I drink what they have, get buzzed, and wait until I get where I'm going next, for the good stuff.

Joe Roberts said...

Thanks Steve - great move bringing your own. Too bad it would have to be in 3 ounce increments now...

Of course, I'm not sure there is a restriction on how many 3 ounce bottles you could bring on board...

Anonymous said...

Have never, ever, had a great wine on a flight, or drink for that matter. That said, on a long international, a xanax and a horrible cab still provides for great sleep :)

Joe Roberts said...

Thanks, Heidi! Man, you people are mixin' wet on these flights!

Catering Sydney said...

Did it is good to take hard drink in flight?, as I cant take more then 2 pack

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