Grape expectations: How airlines pick high-flying wines
on 08/05/13 at 8:28 amWine
Roy Moorfield and Lau Chi-sun are in charge of one of Cathay Pacific’s most rigorous selection processes. Last week 140 candidates were brought before them and evaluated by appearance, body, character and even how bitter they are.
“Any flaws or problems here on the ground just get magnified in the air,” said Moorfield in knowing tones.
While it may sound like the way stewardesses were selected some 40 years ago, Moorfield and Lau were actually in Hong Kong to pick out new additions for the airline’s wine selection.
It’s a job that’s kept Moorfield busy for over 24 years as a consultant for the airline. “It’s a dark and lonely life,” he quipped, “but someone has to do it.”
Each year around 3,000 glasses of wine are checked by the pair’s educated palates, and through blind tastings with other connoisseurs they decide what vintages will thrive at 35,000 feet and appeal to discerning drinkers in each travel class.
Tannins and bitter tones in wines are exacerbated by dry cabin air and some wines don’t fare well with the vibrations from air travel and become “bottle shocked,” the experts say. It’s often the delicate fruit tones that add a depth and richness to wines that are first to take a hit.