While nothing comes for free in economy class on U.S. airlines anymore – not even the peanuts – airlines are trying to woo business- and first-class customers by upping the quality of the complimentary wine they serve en route.
The Associated Press reports that United, American and Delta are among the airlines that have sommeliers to pick out the wines that passengers in the expensive seats will sip, taking into account such factors as reduced sense of taste and smell in flight, menu pairings and the flight’s destination.
Delta is also training its flight attendants to be able to talk knowledgeably with passengers about in-flight wine options. Flying coach? No sommelier here, and be prepared to pay for your plonk.
Sex, Ale and Rock ‘n’ Roll
Hit Brit band Elbow are launching their own beer brand, to be served on draft in Robinsons pubs in the UK in September and October.
The limited-edition golden premium session bitter ale, brewed by Manchester brewers Robinsons of Stockport, will be called Build a Rocket Boys!, after the band’s latest album, which reached No. 2 in the UK after its release in January. Its official launch is scheduled for this October at the Manchester Food and Drink Festival.
Apparently the new brew has "a rich, rounded body, smooth bitterness, subtle tang of malt and fruity aroma", which, The Guardian commented, “ sounds like an Elbow album review.” Bending an Elbow, you might say.
Taking the Wine Train
Elbow’s announcement follows on the heels of San Francisco band Train’s release of its own wine brand, Drops of Jupiter Petite Sirah, named after one the band’s earlier hits.
The band already has a wine company, Save Me, San Francisco Wine Co., as well as an online wine club. A third of the profits from the wine sales will go to the charity Family House in San Francisco, which provides temporary housing to the families of sick children.
"We're not really trying to get into the wine business or anything. It's really kind of helping to spread the name out there, and something for our fans," guitarist Jimmy Stafford told the Associated Press.
Charity in a Bottle
Buffalo Trace Distillery is also giving to charity – and it’s an exclusive gift 12 years in the making.
The distillery is giving away bottles from its Millennium Barrel, which has been aging since Dec. 31, 1999, to nonprofit organizations for them to auction off in order to raise money for good causes. Each of the 174 bottles – not available to the public – comes in a numbered hardwood showcase box that includes a piece of the barrel’s charred oak stave and a brochure telling the whiskey’s story.
Buffalo Trace is aiming for the bottles to make $200,000 for charity. With the current popularity of single-barrel bourbons, it’s a target that should be easy to swallow for whiskey enthusiasts.