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Serving up the Finest Wines up above 40,000 feet

Traveling on Emirates should be about a Total Experience. Like a “jigsaw puzzle”, from the moment the chauffeur pick you up from your hotel, to the checking-in process, right up to boarding the plane and enjoying the in-flight entertainment, everything revolves around our Clients’ Experience and every part of the “jigsaw puzzle” should be complete – Mr Robin Padgett, Senior Vice President, Aircraft Catering, Emirates.

Last week, our writer at The Drinking Market had a long-distance phone interview with Mr. Robin Padgett, Senior Vice President, Aircraft Catering at Emirates. Let’s hear what he has to say:

Qn: How does having a whole range of reputable wines benefit a consumer? Is there a wine pairing option on-board the plane?

Ans: In Emirates, we always believe in giving our clients an experience just like a night out in a fine-dining restaurant. Balancing our wine list, we carry wines from both New and the Old World, focusing on both quality and balance. In fact, we normally buy our wines 8-9 years prior to serving them, this does not only ensures that we have the sufficient quantity, but it also ensures that there is a proper storage facility and minimal movements to the wines when we keep it at our private cellar.

Back to the question, Emirates does something a little more interesting, for instance, a trip to Europe, we will feature a more popular wine from the particular country or region, such as a 1996 Chateau Montrose for a flight to Europe! Our clients would not only be able to experience a whole list of well thought through wines, but also some interesting vintages from the wineries in the country they are visiting. Having said that, we do not have a fixed wine-pairing menu on-board the plane, however, our team of air crews have been through strict trainings on wines and spirits, and should be able to do a simple pairing with the meals provided. On top of that, we also recommend our clients to have fun with the pairings, a seafood dish does not necessary have to go with a white wine, try a pinot noir (red) from Burgundy, it’ll definitely go well as well!

Qn: Can the consumers be expecting reputable wines from back vintages?

Ans: Definitely! As mentioned earlier, we often purchase our wines at least 8 to 10 years prior serving them, and we usually store it at our private cellar in Bordeaux or Dubai, a good example is the 2000 Cos d’Estournel that we are currently serving, it was bought 6 to 9 years ago.

Well, since you’re based in Singapore, let me share with you an example of what we serve on-board Emirates on your flight home.

  1. 2000 Dom Perignon
  2. 2006 Domaine Bouchard Pere, Meursault
  3. 2000 Ch La Lagune, Haut Medoc
  4. 2005 Yabby Lake Vineyard Pinot Noir
  5. 1985 Dow’s Vintage Port

Wine Cellar at the First Class Lounge at Terminal 3, Dubai Airport(2)

Qn: Storage of wines on board the plane

Ans: This is definitely one of the best questions, and i am glad you asked that. In Emirates, we take very close attentions to the quality our wines, in fact, we have a strong supply chain system from Dubai which transports the wines on-board the plane through a temperature controlled cargo, which our crews ensures minimal movements to the wines, so as to provide our clients with the best and the most optimal wine experience.

Qn: What triggered the move to go into fine wines on board a plane?

Ans: We have always been serving great wines on-board our planes, however, on a recent note, we are consistently finding the best solutions and strategies to improve our wine programme. The in-house team is one great example, we believe in the “jigsaw puzzle” concept, and wines are part of the “jigsaw puzzle” for a Total Experience

First Class & Business Class Onboard Lounge(5)

Qn: How does a palate differs at 40,000 feet in the sky compared to tasting a wine on the ground? Do the in-house wine team fly to taste?

Ans: There are many school of thoughts about one’s palate that will be affected on-board the plane, however, we do not see that as the main issue, in fact, all our wines are chosen on-premise. Nevertheless, our panel, that includes the President of Emirates travels alot, thus, if any one of us were to spot a wine that does not taste necessary well or doesn’t justify the wines’ potential at 40,000 feet, we will definitely have it replaced.

Having said that, it is uncommon and extraordinary to have a wine that “does not fly”, therefore, we’re glad that the wines we choose have been well-received so far!

First Class & Business Class Onboard Lounge(4)

Qn: What can consumers expect to get in the future?

Ans: I hope that our clients would happy with the service and in-flight entertainment we have on-board Emirates. In the near future, our passengers would definitely be able to enjoy and experience more interesting wines and back vintages from both renown and artisanal wineries. The World is our playground, we will consistently find the best wines to list on board the plane.

Qn: Anything else that you wish to tell our readers?

Ans: Yes! I would like to encourage our passengers to go through our wine list, and flip through it, there are definitely more interesting wines and spirirts that is worth a try. Do not just stick to the common ones that you have heard or seen, try something different, whatever you taste on-board, would definitely taste just as well on land.