VistaJet launches in-flight wine program

The high-end jet card provider has refined wine selections for its guests and is now offering a comprehensive fine wine program for members.

By Doug Gollan, December 5, 2018

After launching live in-flight entertainment programming for kids earlier this year – yes, we’re talking about those Alice in Wonderland themed tea parties – VistaJet has turned its attention to the adults in the room with the debut of the VistaJet Wine Program which will be announced later today. The program is being driven by VistaJet founder, chairman and wine enthusiast Thomas Flohr has led the charge in curating wine selections specifically for their ability to perform well at altitude. The company says, “VistaJet now has the most intelligent and luxurious wine program of its kind to ever exist in air travel.”

VistaJet, which specializes in flights by super midsize and large-cabin long-range jets, said in coming up with the program, it specifically focused on the differences in cabin humidity and ability to taste when flying versus on the ground. Lower oxygen content in our blood inhibits the ability to not only smell but taste.

In conjunction with Oxford University professor Charles Spence, Flohr set out to determine the physical parameters that dictate how we enjoy wine in flight. The experiments show that at a cruising level of 35,000 ft and an air pressure equivalent to 8,500ft (26kPa), our ability to taste sweetness is reduced up to 20%, and saltiness up to 30%. Fruit flavors are diminished while bitter and spice notes stay largely intact.

Being an avid wine collector Flohr took this information and set out to replicate this science in a real-life application. After visiting exclusive vineyards including Clos de Tart and Château Smith Haut Lafitte, Flohr and a panel of experts tasted wines of various ages and styles both on the ground and then again in flight to put the science to the test.

As the perception of both acidity and vanilla (oak) is less diminished than fruit at altitude, wines that are riper and richer with supple tannins and a presence of oak offer the strongest performance in these conditions. The study also confirmed that wines designed for aging do not show well when they are young, because the airplane cabin’s lower oxygen prevents wines from being able to breathe sufficiently during the duration of the flight. For these reasons, wines from riper vintages, warmer regions or with a little age perform the strongest.

These lessons proved instrumental in the development of the recently launched The VistaJet Wine Program.

In accordance with the flight’s confirmed findings, VistaJet has created a Wine Program in which 12 wines are selected each year that follow these parameters. To date, only several wines have been announced: Ruinart Champagnes, Château Pape Clément, Pessac Léognan and the Gaja, Rossj Bass Chardonnay.

To support the program VistaJet has certified its cabin hostesses through the Wine & Spirit Education Trust for Level 2 and they can now lead guests through in-flight guided blend tasting.

The high-end jet card provider has also collected personal perspectives on wine from a number of personalities both in the wine and food world, including Chef Daniel Boulud, Pio Boffa of Pio Cesare, Sofia Coppola, and Andrea Bocelli.

To promote the new program and offer private jet fliers a unique experience, VistaJet can also arrange for exclusive tours with some of the most prestigious estates in the world including Antinori and others to be announced soon. These visits will include private meals with owners of the estates as well as in-depth tastings to showcase all of the reasons these properties are so incredible. The company will also help clients finding old or rare wines.

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