While flying, what really makes the flight memorable is good food and alcohol. Every air traveller likes to order a glass of fine wine or champagne, at any given altitude, any other day.
Behind the Emirates business class and first class wine and spirits list is $135 million (Sh13.5 billion) investment.
At a private wine tasting event held on last Thursday at Nairobi's Capital Club, Emirates uncorked its finest wines and champagne to highlight its first and business class wine selection on board.
Each year, 2.3 million bottles of wine and champagne are consumed in first and business class and economy class travellers drink 3.2 million bottles.
“We have a strong team of wine connoisseurs who build relationships with the world’s most prestigious vineyards, handpick and secure the most exclusive and rare wines to pair with the food menu,” said Hendrik du Preez, Emirates regional manager for East Africa.
“We serve 80 different champagnes, wines and ports on our flights on an average day across our international network and source our wines from Argentina, Australia, Austria, Chile, France, Germany, Italy, New Zealand, Portugal, South Africa, Spain and the US,” he added.
To kick off the wine-tasting event, attendees were treated to the Dom Pérignon 2009 which is often served in first class. It was paired with a lobster salad with beluga caviar.
This was followed by a 2015 Ken Forrester FMC Chenin Blanc, often served in first and business class.
Ken Forrester wines are sourced from Stellenbosch, South Africa's most famous wine region. The winemaker has a partnership with Emirates for almost 10 years. The wine was paired with pan fried scallops.
7 million bottles
Other wines paired with various dishes included Château Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande 2007 and Vilafonte Series M 2015.
To crown the night, dessert was a mi-cuit of chocolate with a salted caramel ice cream paired with a rather sweet Dow’s Colheita 1978, also usually served in first class. Dow's colheitas (single harvest Tawny Ports) are aged for considerably longer than the minimum seven years, and this particular vintage had been maturing in casks for over 40 years. Emirates has been serving Dow’s ports since 2007.
At the heart of Emirates’ wine strategy is to buy exceptional wines en primeur, years before they are released to the market, and then allowing these vintages to mature and reach their potential before serving air travellers.
The Emirates wine cellar currently stores seven million bottles of wine — some of which will be served in 2035.