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The best cellars in the sky

10th February 2010 Print

The results of the Business Traveller Cellars in the Sky Awards 2009 were announced yesterday, at the Business Travel Show at Earls Court 2.

For more than two decades Business Traveller, the premium magazine for frequent business travellers, has organised the annual Cellars in the Sky Awards.

The awards are for the best airline wines served on long-haul flights in business class and first class. Over the course of two days in November, blind tastings of more than 220 bottles were held at the Malmaison Hotel in Charterhouse Square, London.

There were 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; and Tim Atkin, Master of Wine, wine columnist for The Observer, co-chairman of the International Wine Challenge and co-founder of the Wine Gang.

This year, 34 airlines entered a selection of their wines, and after a two-day blind tasting organised by Business Traveller magazine the winners of the following categories were announced and presented:

Business Class
Best Business Class White Wine – SAS
Best Business Class Red Wine – Cathay Pacific
Best Business Class Sparkling Wine – Delta
Best Business Class Fortified or Sweet Wine – Lufthansa
First Class
Best First Class White Wine – TAM
Best First Class Red Wine – Qantas
Best First Class Sparkling Wine – Lufthansa

Best First Class Fortified or Sweet Wine – Qantas
The Cellars
Best Business Class Wine Cellar – Cathay Pacific
Best First Class Wine Cellar – Qantas
Consistency of Wines across Business and First Class – Qatar

Best Presented Wine List – Qantas

Best Alliance – Oneworld

Charles commented on this year’s wines: “An award-winning wine has to obey the general rules of what works in the air, but it has to have elegance and balance as well.

“Various elements in a wine, such as tannin in reds, and acidity in whites, seem to stick out more in the air. So we look for smooth, not too alcoholic reds, and crisp but gentle whites.

“We want to find wines that really delight a business traveler, and contribute to the feeling that his ticket money is well-spent.”