United Airlines recently won Global Traveler’s 2017 Wines on the Wing award for serving the best champagne in international first class. The winner: Joseph Perrier Brut Cuvée Royale 2004. While I don’t purport to be a champagne expert, I’m skeptical.
My beef is not “Krug is better” or “Dom is better” or “Salon is better”. It is not all inconceivable to me that United’s Joseph Perrier Brut Cuvée Royale 2004 might win a blind taste.
And for that reason I congratulate United on its victory.
Here’s are the top-five winners:
1. Joseph Perrier Brut Cuvée Royale 2004 (United Airlines)
2. Taittinger Brut Millésime 2008 (American Airlines)
3. Dom Perignon 2006 (Singapore Airlines)
4. Barons de Rothschild Blanc de Blancs, NV (Asiana Airlines)
5. Laurent-Perrier Grand Siècle, Grande Cuvée, NV (British Airways)
But, champagne on the ground does not taste like champagne at 40,000 feet. Just as food must be specially-prepared to account for differing conditions onboard an aircraft, so does the taste of champagne (and other alcohol) vary based on altitude. That makes the tasting results much less practical to those who use this as a purchasing decision.
Second, I don’t trust Global Traveler. The magazine features flight reviews in every issue. These are not as in-depth as my trip reports, but still tend to include the essentials: seat, food, service, IFE, etc. Read the end of each review and you’ll see a disclaimer that the airline comped the flight. You also have airlines, including United, who advertise in the magazine. Pay for play?
I won’t go that far. This tasting test may be totally legitimate. But I simply do not give Global Traveler much credibility. And that’s one reason why I struggle over comped flight and do not accept them.
And third, doesn’t this tweet from United say it all–
— United Airlines (@united) August 2, 2017
Nothing like champagne served in a plastic cup from a cabin that will be phased out by next spring. In fact, the picture is of business class, not even first class.
So let’s congratulate United for this victory in its final year of Polaris First Class. But let’s not blindly accept that the results may not be as tainted as a bottle of flat champagne.