Thursday, February 18, 2010

Bitching about airline wine

Today I will fly on Continental for about 12 hours. I'd like to have a glass of wine or two, and for this Continental charges $5 -- even on international flights.

Fine. But if I have to pay $5 for 175 ml of wine, can't it at least be good?

On my way here, Continental offered only one wine, a California Chardonnay called Redtree, made by Ceccheti Wine Co. from purchased grapes. A whole 750 ml bottle of the stuff would cost less than $10 in a store. So why is Continental's markup so high?

And more to the point, why can't they make a better wine available?

Last year I flew coach on Qantas and was served -- for free -- St. Hallett Barossa Valley Shiraz and Tyrell's Hunter Valley Chardonnay. On Air New Zealand coach I was served -- for free -- Allan Scott Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc. These are wines with regional character from good wineries, and all would be well worth $5 a glass.

Why can't Continental offer something like that? A Sobon Zinfandel, for example -- they're only about $12 retail for a full bottle and they're excellent. Or how about a Beckmen Santa Barbara County Rhone blend? I would happily pay $5 for a miniature bottle of one of these. Heck, I'd even buy two.

I don't mean to pick on Continental because it's actually one of the best US airlines when it comes to food. American, if I remember correctly, offers sweet wines with cute labels from the Wine Group, also for purchase. Delta, United, US Air, none of them are known for wine selection. I'm only mentioning Continental because it's my airline today.* (And actually, the flight was great -- excellent service, great film selection, palatable food. Just the wine problem.)

If US airlines insist on charging international fliers for wine, I just don't see why they can't make arrangements to have something better. Maybe they could have a reserve tier for $10 a glass. I just spent $10 a glass last night in a restaurant, as I'm sure most international fliers have done, and I might grumble about doing so on a plane, but I would do it for something good -- it darn well better not be FishEye Merlot.

Spirits are a better deal -- $5 for a Bombay Sapphire, Skyy or Jack Daniel's isn't bad. But I don't generally drink spirits with a meal. I would buy both a bottle of wine AND a postprandial liquor if the former weren't so weak. Continental would make even more money from me. Instead, I'll keep my credit card in my pocket until the meal is done.

Sigh. I just hope nobody on my plane beats me to the one miniature of Glenlivet on board.


Anonymous said...

How uncivilized of them not to offer good wine.

WineChef said...

Tweet this! Virgin just responded to a smilar comment about their beer and got some great stuff on there.

Louis Biggie said...

United is offering very poor wine these days! They have a line called Redwood Creek, and it is really poor.