To keep up with the demands of their passengers, airlines are now competing to offer the best wine lists in the sky.
Since carriers like BA realised in the late '70s that wine tastes different in pressurised cabins at great height than at ground level, the quality and style of wine offered changed dramatically. Softer and more fruity wines started being served and the craze for Australian wine perhaps started there. Premium wines began to be served in first class, including quality champagne, getting away from the more acidic wines of old.
Emirates, the Dubai-based airline, has spent more than $500 million to develop their wine service. At any given time there are 70 different types of wine across its network. Wines offered depend on flight path and serving the best vintages at the right time. Emirates have even bought their own warehouses in France to store wines they buy and "lay down" until the right time. You can order Dom Perignon on every flight.
On Qantas a staggering 250 different wines are served on their flights around the world and they are the third largest buyer of Australian wines. On any of their flights you can ask for a wine tasting in the galley. The tastings will be conducted by one of their specially trained flight attendants (a result of their Sommelier in the Sky programme). The service is not advertised but just ask onboard. Although not all trained as Sommeliers, all the Qantas flight attendants have been trained on their all Australian in-flight wine offering (champagne not Ozzie of course).
Singapore Airlines wine menu is excellent, not surprising since the airline's panel of experts includes Australia's first Master of Wine, Michael Hill Smith. Classic regions are selected for example a Château Loudenne claret, as well as new world standouts like New Zealand's Cloudy Bay sauvignon blanc. You can order a tawny port too.
Cathay Pacific has an award winning wine list which continues to wow experts and punters alike. A mixture of well established names and new classics are offered. Cathay keep their Bordeaux well-cellared and excellent vintages are available in first class.
Of course you'll get the very best in first class but business and even economy have great wine lists on airlines these days, especially on long haul. Cheers!