South African Airways starts process to select best on-board wines

SAA Gold Class

South African Airways (SAA) promises to offer the best in local wines through its annual selection process.

The selection process to determine the outcome of which wines are to be served on board SAA’s flights for 2016 has started.

“Winemakers from across the country have been invited to participate in the process and we’ve received a considerable number of entries as in previous years. The SAA wine selection process, now in its 30th year, is an eagerly anticipated event on our annual calendar.

“The selection is an integral part of our overall customer experience and unique value proposition of promoting South African wine exclusively to our worldwide passenger base,” says Kim Thipe, Head of Marketing: SAA.

Winemakers had until 15 October to submit their wines, which will be tasted by a panel of esteemed local and international wine judges.

The judges for the 2016 selection are: Yegas Naidoo, Nomonde Kubheka, Luvo Ntezo, Laurie Smorthwaite, Tatiana Marcetteau, Wellington Melo (Brazil), Master Sommelier Christopher Bates (USA); and Master of Wine Richard Kelly (UK). This year’s selection panel is a combination of both previous and new judges, with the international judges representing three of the seven continents SAA flies to. Several of this year’s diverse panel of judges hail from the travel and hospitality industry with expertise in catering to both domestic and global traveller tastes and expectations. The judging has been done at the Cullinan Hotel, Cape Town. Miguel Chan, Tsogo Sun’s Group Sommelier, facilitated this year’s judging in partnership with SAA.

SAA traditionally selects 24 white and 24 red wines from among the thousands of wines submitted to be served on-board SAA flights and in its Business Class lounges. Wines are scored and the results are compiled with both internal and external auditors.

SAA then allocates the wines for service in a particular month and a particular class of travel. The airline recently announced that it now serves South African Méthode Cap Classiques instead of French champagne on most regional and international Business Class flights and in its Business Class lounges.

The winners of the 2016 wine selection in the categories for White Wine of the Year; Red Wine of the Year; Méthode Cap Classic of the Year; and Port of the Year will be announced on 21 November in Cape Town. The Chief Executive Officer Award and the Chairperson’s Award will also be presented.

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