Singapore Airlines will keep £5m wine budget

  • Tuesday 15 December 2009

Singapore Airlines will maintain its annual £5m wine budget despite the CEO taking a 20% cut in salary in a bid to cope with the company’s second-successive quarterly loss.

The development is ‘remarkably encouraging’ Steven Spurrier, Decanter’s consultant editor said.

Spurrier, who is one of Singapore Airlines’ (SIA) three wine consultants, along with Michael Hill Smith MW and Jeannie Cho Lee MW, told decanter.com that passengers who are travelling first class in times of global recession ‘still, perhaps more than ever, expect the best’.

He said: ‘Airlines that cut back at the front of the plane will suffer badly by comparison. SIA does not intend to cut back; in fact it is moving forward strongly.’

A first-class return ticket from London to Singapore on SIA’s Airbus A380 costs £8,500. For that, passengers are served Dom Pérignon and Krug Champagnes, as well as Grand Cru Burgundy and a number of second-growth Bordeaux, including ‘super-second’ Cos d’Estournel.

  • The news coincides with research into the effects of altitude and air pressure on wine, carried out by private aviation company ConnectJets and WineChap, a website specialising in restaurant wine-list reviews.

    The research involved comparing the taste of a selection of white and red wines and Champagnes at ground level and again at altitude.

    Researchers found that as pressurised cabins ‘deaden the palate’ and ‘flatten’ flavours, concentrated, fruit-driven wines performed.

    It is best to serve claret from ripe, maturing vintages, such as 2003, 2000 and 1995, researchers said.

    At the same time, the influence of oak is more apparent at altitude, and with Champagne, bold, Pinot-Noir-dominant cuvées are best.

    The Charles Heidsieck Brut Reserve NV – the current release is made up of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier, with the two former dominant - ‘vanished in mid-air’.

    Spurrier’s view is that perception is vital in all tasting situations: if you're comfortable, and you're served wine in a nice glass, then the wine will taste better.

    ‘The person changes much more in the air than the wine does. I have tasted a wine from business class the evening before flying out on SIA and tasted it in the air, and it is the same wine.’

    New video: How to Analyse Colour, with Steven Spurrier

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