Results of Airline Wine Competition Released

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Global Traveler determines the best in airline wines during its annual tasting.

Global Traveler, the only ABC-audited magazine for business and luxury travelers, is releasing the results of its fifth annual Wines on the Wing International Business Class Airline Wine Competition.

The contest was held May 27 at Montenapo Restaurant in New York City. Thirty-five expert judges participated in the blind tasting of airlines' white, red and sparkling wines. The judges hailed from a wide range of specialties, including sommeliers, wine shop owners and winemakers. In total, 27 airlines participated and over 130 samples were tasted.

Airlines are required to submit five different wines -- two red wines, two white wines and one sparkling wine/Champagne -- to be eligible for the Best Overall Wines on the Wing award. This year's winner was Qatar Airways.

"Qatar Airways is extremely delighted to learn we were selected for the award. We go to great lengths to make sure our passengers are afforded an appealing array of red and white wine selections, as well as Champagnes, in all classes of service. It is our goal to ensure that even the most discerning taste buds enjoy the perfect wine complement to our 5-star dining and service," said Tony Hughes, vice president Americas, Qatar Airways.
"Our wine consultants are some of world's best known, and their excellent selections are evidenced by the recognition we've received and continue to receive in celebration of our in-flight wine cellar.

Qatar also took home top honors in the Best White Wine category. In fact, Qatar dominated the category, securing spots No. 1 and No. 2. The top wine was Saint Clair Pioneer Block 18 Sauvignon Blanc 2008 from New Zealand.

The best airline Champagne/sparkling wine was LAN's Henriot Souverain Brut NV. LAN also placed well in the overall category, taking the No. 4 position.

"LAN Airlines selects its wines through Hector Vergara, LAN's sommelier and the only master sommelier in Latin America," said Carlos Roman, marketing director for LAN. "With Mr. Vergara's expertise and guidance, LAN carefully chooses the best wines from South American lands to perfectly accompany our menu, which is comprised of the finest ingredients emphasizing the natural flavors of the region."

When it came to red wine, Alitalia reigned supreme. The airline's Fornace di Cerreto Barbera d'Asti 2004, Italy, was the favored choice. Alitalia's second red wine submission -- Coste delle Plaie Montepulciano d'Abruzzo 2005, Podere Castroni, Italy -- took fourth place in the category.

"Alitalia is honored to have won the award for best business-class wine in Global Traveler's 2009 Wines on the Wing survey," said Antonio Temporini, senior vice president, North America, Alitalia. "As an Italian carrier, we take great care to offer our customers an in-flight service experience that includes fine Italian wines and cuisine. The award is a reflection of our commitment to our culinary heritage."

Global Traveler introduced a new category in this year's competition. The magazine invited North American airlines to submit first-class wine samples. (In instances where first class was not applicable, samples from domestic business class were accepted.) Four airlines participated -- Virgin America, American Airlines, Air Canada and US Airways.

The overall winner was Virgin America. The airline also took top white wine honors for its Artesa Chardonnay Reserve 2006, California.

"We are thrilled to have won in this category with Global Traveler. As the only airline based in San Francisco, we've been fortunate enough to be at the epicenter of great California cuisine, and, as a result, our onboard wine selection reflects the tastes of our guests and celebrates the very best from our home state's unrivalled vintners," said Abby Lunardini, director of corporate communications, Virgin America. "We have essentially turned our first-class cabin into a tasting room, with an excellent, eclectic selection of California wines."

When it came to sparkling wines, American Airlines was the cream of the crop. The airline's Gloria Ferrer Sonoma Caneros Brut NV was the finest domestic sparkling on offer.

"Our main goal with the American Airlines wine program is to provide our customers a satisfying wine experience, so we are honored to receive one of Global Traveler's 2009 Wines on the Wing awards," said Lauri Curtis, vice president onboard service, American Airlines. "We firmly believe in our approach to offer a wide range of wines in style, geography, uniqueness and grape varietals, while retaining classics and customer favorites to further enhance the onboard dining and relaxation experience."

Air Canada was the big winner in the North American red wine category with its Tenuta Sant' Antonio Valpolicella 2005, Italy.

"Wine is a very important part of our customers' in-flight experience and the Global Traveler award reinforces our commitment to the quality and uniqueness our customers expect," said Louis Carvalho, senior director in-flight catering and technology, Air Canada.

Competition director Eunice Fried spends months preparing for the blind tasting. Fried, an accomplished wine journalist and respected wine expert, resides in New York City.

"While I prepared the wines for Global Traveler's fifth airline wine competition, I wondered how the economic crisis, which has certainly taken its toll on airlines, would affect their wines. Had the quality gone down? I needn't have worried," Fried said. "After the competition, as the judges were leaving, several mentioned that, on the contrary, they found an upturn in quality this year. And in tallying the scores and reading the judges' comments, it was clear that airlines have made a concerted effort to find the best wines within their budgets. They have done a remarkably good job."

Global Traveler is the only U.S.-based publication to conduct such a survey in the United States.

"We are incredibly proud of our wine survey," said Francis X. Gallagher, publisher and CEO, Global Traveler. "We strive to bring our readers the most comprehensive information on travel and lifestyle. As frequent travelers, our readers are making more than 30 trips per year. The details matter, and that is the reason we spend months working on our wine survey. Our commitment is to deliver the most unique, useful and up-to-date information to our readers."

The top five airlines in each category are:

1.    Qatar Airways
2.    Finnair
3.    Asiana Airlines
4.    LAN Airlines
5.    Swiss International Airlines

1.    LAN Airlines
2.    Emirates
3.    American Airlines
4.    Asiana Airlines
5.    US Airways

1.    Qatar Airways
2.    Qatar Airways
3.    US Airways
4.    Finnair
5.    Finnair

1.    Alitalia
2.    Swiss International Airlines
3.    American Airlines
4.    Alitalia/Ethiopian Airlines (TIE)
5.    Delta Air Lines

For a complete list of winners and for more on the competition, check out the August 2009 issue of Global Traveler or visit

About Global Traveler:

Global Traveler is a business travel and lifestyle publication and the publication of choice among seasoned business travelers. Global Traveler is the only ABC-audited U.S.-based magazine for the international business traveler, with an ABC paid circulation of 107,140+. The magazine is also the only ABC-audited magazine independently measured by MediaMark Research (MRI). No other monthly magazine in its category boasts a higher audited circulation or page count. Ninety percent of its readership has average household income in excess of $100,000; 96 percent attended or graduated from college; and 98 percent of its readers are either top management or professionals.

About FXExpress Publications:

FXExpress Publications, Inc., based in Yardley, Pa., is a privately held company publishing Global Traveler magazine; eFlyer, a weekly electronic travel newsletter sent to subscribers and accessible online at; and eFlyer Asia, The company also operates, and The company produces several annuals, including the Class Act Book, Global City Guidebook, Luxury Book, Globility book series and custom publishing for various entities.


Kimberly Krol
Global Traveler
215-369-3460 x202


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Kimberly Krol
Global Traveler
215-369-3460 ext. 202
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