The annual Cellars in the Sky Awards have been announced, recognising the best business and first class wines served by airlines worldwide. The awards were presented today (February 9) at the Business Travel and Meetings Show by Charles Metcalfe, TV wine presenter and co-chairman of the International Wine Challenge.
The big winner this year was Qantas, which walked away with four awards, for Best First Class Red Wine, Best First Class Fortified / Sweet Wine, Best First Class Cellar, and Best Presented Wine List. The airline’s haul also helped Oneworld come out on top in the Best Alliance category.
Cathay Pacific won two awards for its business-class offerings, triumphing in the Best Business Class Red Wine and Best Business Class Cellar categories, and Lufthansa also bagged two awards, for Best Business Class Fortified / Sweet Wine, and Best First Class Sparkling Wine.
For a full rundown of the results, click here.
Commenting on this year’s entries, Metcalfe said there had been some pleasant surprises, with a number of unusual choices, perhaps reflective of the economic situation.
“Airlines are having to be more creative with their wine choices,” said Metcalfe. “Rather than choosing an expensive and well-known label, they are choosing lesser-known but much more interesting wines.”
The Business Traveller Cellars in the Sky Awards have been running since 1985, with 34 airlines taking part this time round:
Aer Lingus, Air Astana, Air Baltic, Air Canada, Air New Zealand, Alitalia, American Airlines, ANA, Austrian Airlines, Bmi, British Airways, Brussels Airlines, Cathay Pacific, Delta, Emirates, Etihad Airways, Finnair, Gulf Air, Iberia, Japan Airlines, Jet Airways, Kenya Airways, KLM, Korean Air, LAN, Lufthansa, Mexicana, Qantas, Qatar Airways, SAS, Singapore Airlines, South African Airways, TAM Airlines and US Airways.
How the winners were chosen
We contacted more than 65 airlines in the summer of 2009, inviting them to enter two white wines, two red wines, one sparkling and one fortified or sweet wine, from both business and first class.
Airlines didn’t have to enter all the categories, but to be eligible for a “best cellar” prize they had to submit at least one red, one white and one sparkling. The wines were then shipped to the Business Traveller office to be unpacked, checked, labelled and reboxed according to category and class.
The tastings were held at Malmaison in London’s Charterhouse Square on October 22 and 23, with five judges:
- Charles Metcalfe, TV wine presenter and co-chairman of the International Wine Challenge
- Joanna Simon, author, wine and food editor for House and Garden magazine and co-founder of the Wine Gang
- Sam Harrop, Master of Wine and winemaking consultant
- Derek Smedley, Master of Wine for more than 40 years, consultant and co-chairman of the International Wine Challenge
- Tim Atkin, Master of Wine, wine columnist for The Observer, co-chairman of the International Wine Challenge and co-founder of the Wine Gang.