Delta Airlines Enhances In-Flight Experience with Exclusive Wine Program Featuring Rioja
Delta Airlines is once again raising the bar for airline hospitality with the launch of an exclusive wine program featuring premium wines from Rioja, Spain. This partnership with renowned Master Sommelier Andrea Robinson brings an unprecedented selection of wines to Delta’s in-flight offerings, catering to a broad spectrum of tastes and preferences.
Rioja: A Gem from Spain’s Famed Wine Region
At the heart of this program is the inclusion of exquisite wines from Rioja, a region renowned for its exceptional red wines. These wines, characterized by their dark fruit and spice flavors, promise to delight the discerning palates of Delta’s passengers.
A Diverse and Sophisticated Lineup AT DELTA AIRLINES
Robinson, together with the Delta team, embarked on an extensive selection process, tasting over 1,300 wines to curate a diverse and sophisticated lineup. This lineup includes a variety of red, white, rosé, Champagne, and port wines, making it the most comprehensive wine offering in Delta’s history.
“It’s process that starts out as an academic exercise,” explains Robinson. “Availability and quantity are big considerations, as are budget parameters.” While the first round of edits is relatively straightforward, once they reduce the final candidates to 120 -200 wines that’s when the tasting, debating and fine-tuning begins. “Quality is the rule rather than the exception for us,” says Robinson, “we look for categories we know do well and a balance of styles so there is something for everyone.” Offerings include a balance of tried-and-true classics that are anchors of any wine list and discovery wines – wines that surprise and that may not be your go-to on a wine list. “Discovery wines,” says Robinson “are the best part of the experience. Having a discovery moment is a big part of the allure of travel. I love that about American culture; people travel for their desire to discover and we can bring that to people in a wine glass.”
There are other factors that influence the process, most especially altitude, which Robinson notes does strange things to the palate. “The most important consideration when tasting for altitude is that the wine’s acidity be a prominent element of structure. We want a good ripe integration of acid, as opposed to a tart angular acid. It’s dry and there is low atmospheric pressure at altitude so the sensory system does not have the acuity it normally has. The acid is critical to make you salivate and rehydrate you. Also, the fruit has to be balanced punch and juicy.” She also looks for wines with a good concentration of aromatics. Aroma concentration dissipates much faster at altitude so there is a diminished ability to appreciate smell. “It’s like drinking great wine with a fan blowing on you,” she explains.
Sustainability at the Forefront
Delta’s commitment to sustainability is also evident in this program. Many of the wineries featured are pioneers in sustainable farming, aligning with Delta’s dedication to environmental responsibility. This commitment extends to the use of lightweight bottles and rigorous recycling and composting initiatives, reducing the program’s environmental impact.
Identifying wineries that share Delta’s corporate values was also essential to the selection process explains Kristen Manion Taylor, senior vice president of In-flight Service. “The final selections are brands that reflect the diverse community of the winegrowing world and lead their industry in sustainability practices.”
A New Benchmark in Airline Hospitality
This partnership not only enhances the in-flight experience for Delta’s passengers but also represents a significant milestone in airline hospitality, setting a new benchmark for quality and variety in onboard wine selections.
Robinson is quick to note that this is only the beginning of a longtime commitment to both excellence and sustainability in the wine program at Delta. A “Sky Sommelier” training program is undergoing a big revamp and will kick off next year. All Delta pursers are going through a leading-edge purser training that includes the wine piece. “The hope is that we will be able to bring more wine education and pairing information to the customer experience. Right now,” she adds, “there isn’t another US-based airline that provides this kind of training program for flight attendants. This isn’t just about putting good wine on board; this is our chance to bring back the expanded world of wine we are all living in.”
Highlights of the Exclusive Wine Program
New premium Rioja Wines on DELTA ONE through Summer 2024. *
• Ontañón Tempranillo Blanco *
100% Tempranillo Blanco
Intense tropical fruit aromas of pineapple and banana with hints of white flowers. This wine is balanced with good acidity, a high expression of fruit with a lengthy finish.
• Marqués de Cáceres “Excellens” Rosé
60% Garnacha Tinta 40% Tempranillo
A Delicate yet complex wine. Pale pink color. Complex nose offering rose petal with flavors of peaches and pears. The palate is balanced and delivers freshness as well as a lengthy, sweet finish.
• Cune Reserva*
85% tempranillo,15% garnacha tinta, graciano y mazuelo
This Reserva has intense ruby red color. Rich aromas of red fruit with a hint of balsamic and warm spices from fine oak. The palate is complex with an excellent bright finish.
• Bodegas Riojanas “Viña Albina” Gran Reserva*
Cherry red colour with russet tones. On the palate, it is fine, elegant and velvety. Ripe tannins. Soft finish.
- Curated by Master Sommelier Andrea Robinson: Robinson, together with the Delta team, tasted over 1,300 wines to curate the program’s diverse and sophisticated lineup.
- Sustainable practices: Many of the wineries featured are pioneers in sustainable farming, aligning with Delta’s commitment to environmental responsibility.
- A comprehensive wine offering: The program includes a variety of red, white, rosé, Champagne, and port wines, catering to a broad spectrum of tastes and preferences.
Delta’s commitment to providing exceptional service and exceeding customer expectations is evident in this new wine program. With its focus on quality, sustainability, and diversity, this program sets a new standard for airline hospitality.