Curating a fine wine cellar to please taste buds from all over the world is a challenge; creating one travelling at over 30,000 feet for one of the most trusted airlines in the world is both an art and a science. Master of Wine Debra Meiburg, who was named as one of the “Seven People to Watch” by Decanter Magazine, is up for the task. She joins Cathay Pacific’s wine panel, which includes Australian wine expert Roy Moorfield, and is excited to design a wine menu that fulfils the airline’s promise of ‘Life Well Travelled’ for today’s wine-savvy travellers.
Debra Meiburg MW has joined as one of Cathay Pacific’s wine consultants.
Cathay Pacific serves around 1.8 million bottles of wine each year, giving an indication of the importance it plays in the inflight service. These days it’s not simply good food that discerning travellers want – just as essential to the premium flying experience is a sophisticated selection of high calibre wine to enjoy. Cathay Pacific Head of Catering Aaron Claxton believes that travellers are getting more food and wine savvy than ever before, so the airline keeps aims to be one step ahead by bringing the journey of a world of fine wine onboard every Cathay Pacific flight.
“At Cathay Pacific, we are committed to offering passengers a high-quality food and beverage experience that helps to make their journeys special. Working with our wine consultants, we aim to explore the wine world to choose not only widely recognised wines, but also new wine options that our passengers might not have tried before,” he said.
“That is why we are very pleased to welcome Debra on board as one of our consultants. She is known for her global approach and great insights into Asia’s wine markets, and, working in tandem with our existing wine consultants, will help in our quest to bring more unique wine experiences to our passengers.”
With passengers as engaged as ever in the inflight dining experience, Debra Meiburg MW is excited about her new role with Cathay Pacific.
“With so many interesting wines in the market today, I’m excited at the vast potential to offer an enriched wine experience to enhance passengers’ inflight experience which aligns with Cathay Pacific’s Life Well Travelled philosophy. I am thrilled to join Cathay Pacific’s wine panel, and excited to review the airline’s current wine portfolio and offer guidance on the evolution of this selection,” she said.
“Firmly established as Asia’s wine hub, Hong Kong continues to draw the attention of the global wine industry. As Hong Kong’s home carrier, Cathay Pacific is ideally positioned to showcase this to the world. I look forward to working with Cathay Pacific’s world-class team to elevate the wine programme and exceed passenger expectations even further.”
Rigorous selection of Cathay Pacific’s cellar in the sky
Cathay Pacific serves around 80 different wines from countries including France, Italy, Austria, South Africa, Australia, the United States and New Zealand, selected by a highly specialised panel of wine critics and judges. There are wines that lend themselves to travelling and some that don’t, which is why the wines sampled by the panel are flown straight in for the tasting to enable a true assessment of their merits. The tasters look for specific characteristics that ensure Cathay Pacific only selects “wines that fly” – wines that have not succumbed to cabin pressure and the vibration which can fatigue the fruit flavour, exposing the acidity and tannin. In addition, to avoid being influenced or intimidated by wine labels, the tasting is conducted “blind”.
During a flight, the aroma of wine tends to be reduced while the tannin and bitterer flavour components are often more pronounced, so good characteristics for flying wines are a big fruit flavour, mild tannins and a balanced acidity.
Cathay Pacific’s wine menus are updated as frequently as four times per year. In addition to the regular selection, special limited release wines are made available from time to time for premium passengers. These may be wines that can only be sourced in smaller quantities from the winemakers.