SOUTH AFRICAN AIRWAYS boasts an 83-year history, founded in 1934. Today the international airline serves 38 airports in 26 countries. And for the 31st year, it continues its meticulous program of choosing the wines offered on board. Like many airlines of wine-producing countries, South African Airways is justly proud of its own nation’s wines and serves its passengers South Africa’s best. Choosing those wines is a painstaking exercise that brings out the finest of the offerings.
This is how it works: Each year, wineries across South Africa submit wines to SAA to be judged. And each October, the airline invites 8 to 12 wine judges, all professionals such as sommeliers, winemakers and certified wine educators; most are from South Africa, with a few international judges from countries that import South African wines and, thus, professionals familiar with those wines. For three days judges taste the wines blind — that is, the wines are served in numbered glasses so that other than being told the general type of wine (Sauvignon Blanc or Pinotage, for example), judges never see a bottle and do not know which winery submitted a given wine.
While the number of wines tasted varies with the year, last year’s entry of 730 wines was typical. The judges narrow these hundreds of wines down to a workable number through their scores; internal and external auditors then compile the results. With that information, SAA selects 24 whites and 24 reds, as well as South Africa’s sparkling wines, to be served on flights and in its business-class lounges the following year.
“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.
The chosen wines are then allocated for service for a given month and for a given class of travel.
“It is not hard to imagine how challenging it is to arrive at naming the winning wines,” adds Thipe.
And not hard to imagine how intriguing they are.
Read This Next
Munich’s Maxvorstadt Neighborhood
All Reads on This Topic
Read Them All
FX Excursions offers the chance for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in destinations around the world.
SponsoredJun 1, 2023
Protected: MORE TO TRAVEL
There’s more to travel than just getting there.
Treasure Every Moment in The Islands of Tahiti
Welcome to The Islands of Tahiti, where every moment is a treasure waiting to be discovered. From the moment you arrive, you will be greeted with warm hospitality, time-honored traditions and an awe-inspiring landscape that will take your breath away.
Park Hyatt Tokyo Prepares for Its New Look
As Park Hyatt Tokyo prepares to celebrate its 30th anniversary, it recently embarked on a complete renovation on May 7, with plans to reopen in 2025. The makeover will include all guestrooms and facilities, with the transformation led by design agency Jouin Manku, planning to create a fresh, modern feel.
4 Reasons to Visit Montecucco, Italy, This Summer
Summer is so close we can almost taste it, and as many destinations worldwide vie for your attention, this Italian region awaits your visit. Montecucco, located in southern Tuscany, is a wine lover’s dream, with more than 350 grape varieties and 20 winegrowing regions. Winemaking in this region goes as far back as the Romans, who most likely saw their predecessors, the Etruscans, grow grapes with great success.
Plan Your Escape to Arizona
Indulgent escapes are made even more enjoyable by fast, easy access — and that’s what Arizona offers. Quick, non-stop and direct flights to one of two international airports put all the luxury of The Grand Canyon State within easy reach.
London Concours Displays Golden Age Coupes
If you’re a fan of ageless luxury, make your way to England’s capital city for The London Concours, June 6–8 on the grounds of the Honourable Artillery Company. Presented by Montres Breguet, the event provides an opportunity to bask in the polished glow of nearly 100 of the most coveted, privately owned vehicles on the planet.
Homer and Janet by Homer Review
eFlyer ReviewsMay 31, 2023
Nobu Palo Alto Reveals New Japanese-Inspired Restaurant and Garden
Headed by renowned designer Shigeru Namba, Nobu Palo Alto’s Japanese-inspired restaurant and garden officially opened to the public this month, in which a sophisticated and refined extension greets patrons upon arrival. The new space and garden offer guests and diners an unparalleled venue in downtown Palo Alto, California, playing upon the seasons to showcase flora during its proper blooming periods.
What Business Travel Looks Like Now From Those Who Know It Best
Pack your bags, traveling for business is making a comeback — and the role of the corporate travel manager is more important than ever.
eFlyer DealsMay 31, 2023
Father’s Day Luxuries at InterContinental New York Barclay
This Father’s Day, the InterContinental New York Barclay takes celebrations to the next level with its new offer, allowing fathers to enjoy a relaxing stay through a specially curated gift certificate.