Delta Air Lines this week unveiled the wines which will be served in its BusinessElite cabin, a group of 22 labels whittled down from 1600 submissions reviewed by Delta's Master Sommelier Andrea Robinson. But what about the folks stuck in coach, who desperately need a drink to counteract the tension created by too-tight seats and screaming babies?
Domestic economy fliers, unlike their wealthier compatriots seated up front, aren't given many wine choices: There's red and there's white. To help you decide in advance of Christmas trips whether you'd rather shell out for Shiraz or Scotch, we've compiled information on the major carriers' house wines. Remember, wines which taste great on the ground often don't translate to the air. The palate naturally picks up fewer fruits and more tannins at 35,000 feet, which is why jammy New World wines are beloved by airline sommeliers.
White: Waterbrook Winery Two Ponds Chardonnay
Tasting notes: ""Fresh and lively, with a creamy edge to the pear and passion fruit flavors, lingering on the deftly balanced finish. (89 points)" - Wine Spectator
Suggested pairing: Mediterranean Tapas Picnic Pack, $6
Red: Waterbrook Winery Red Blend
Tasting notes: "An easy drinking fruit forward wine with notes of blackberry, plum and a kiss of soft cedar on the finish from oak aging." - Waterbrook Winery
Suggested pairing: Grilled Chicken Mac 'n' Cheese, $6
White: Hayes Ranch Chardonnay
Tasting notes: "Most of the vanilla in this saucy white is in its bouquet, where it blends harmoniously with lemon and melon. The trio carries through to first sip with the fruit on top and the vanilla, paired with light oak, subordinated. Ginger and clementine join the party at mid palate and the whole melange persists through a bright off-dry finish." - Colette and John Bancroft, Tampa Bay Times
Suggested pairing: Turkey sandwich on cranberry sunflower bread, $6.50
Red: Les Tesoros Vendimia Red
Tasting notes: Apparently unavailable online
Suggested pairing: Cheeseburger sliders, $7
White: RedTree Pinot Grigio
Tasting notes: "This inexpensive Pinot Grigio is perfectly fine for sipping, with decent acidity but not a lot of length on the finish and an interesting baked fig aroma. (84 points)" - Wine Enthusiast
Suggested pairing: Trio of Swiss, cheddar and hot pepper cheeses; almonds and crackers, $5.99
Red: RedTree Pinot Noir
Tasting notes: "This is a fabulous value for the money. There are a slew of California pinots that sell for more than $30. If you lined them all up and stuck this Red Tree into a blind tasting, you'd be surprised how well it would show." - Las Vegas Review Journal
Suggested pairing: Field Trip Beef Jerky, $4.25
White: RedTree Chardonnay
Tasting notes: "Light in style and low in price and alcohol, this Chard is tropical and slightly sweet, perfect for your next-door neighbor or tippler aunt who doesn't often drink wine. For more experienced wine drinkers, the sweet doesn't overextend its welcome. (85 points)" - Wine Enthusiast
Suggested pairing: Grilled chicken Caesar salad, $9.49
Red: Fox Grove Shiraz Cabernet Sauvignon
Tasting notes: "This wine is not bad. Cherry candy on the nose brings some really tasty/chewy red currants on the decently balanced mid plate, fruitiness that has a good acidic component and even some puckering tannins." - Caspernick's Blog
Suggested pairing: Angus cheeseburger, $7.99
White: Casa Amada Chardonnay
Tasting notes: "Enjoy aromas of pear and a hint of baked apple, a palate that offers apples and pears with a hint of citrus and a bright, fresh finish." - US Airways
Suggested pairing: Pringles, $3
Red: Doña Dominga Merlot
Tasting notes: "A decent merlot for a regular dinner." - Snooth.com
Suggested pairing: Barbecue chicken salad, $8
Note 1: American Airlines rotates dozens of different wines through its economy trolleys. Domestic travelers who ask for white wine may be served such wines as Butterfield Station Sauvignon Blanc, Geyser Peak Chardonnay, Line 39 Sauvignon Blanc, Pasqua Pinot Grigio or Sycamore Lane Chardonnay. The reds include 181 Merlot, Beringer North Coast Meritage, Bogle Merlot, Bushman's Gulley Cabarnet Sauvignon, Cycles Gladiator Syrah, Leyland Creek Estate Carmenere and Smoking Loon Petite Sirah. Good luck.
The reds include 181 Merlot, Beringer North Coast Meritage, Bogle Merlot, Bushman's Gulley Cabarnet Sauvignon, Cycles Gladiator Syrah, Leyland Creek Estate Carmenere and Smoking Loon Petite Sirah. Good luck.
Note 2: Delta didn't respond to an e-mail requesting details of its economy class wine program.