There are a few famously great pairings in life: Mork and Mindy, ketchup and fries, movies and popcorn — and airplane flights and a beautiful glass of wine. This season, Alaska Airlines is introducing a new West Coast wine menu to complement their fresh-and-local seasonal cuisine.
Winter wine menu
- First class: Chamisal Vineyards 2016 Stainless Chardonnay, Ranch 32 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon
- Main cabin: Broken Earth 2014 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, Canoe Ridge Exploration Chardonnay
This selection will continue to rotate, introducing new and interesting wines from the West Coast, where more than 90 percent of U.S. wine production occurs. Alaska Airlines has the most nonstop flights from the West Coast and is committed to partnering with noteworthy local winemakers.
Selecting the perfect blend
To find the very best selection, the Alaska Airlines food and beverage team reached out to wineries up and down the West Coast in search of high-quality wines that shine at 35,000 feet.
The team went through a long and thoughtful process, not only to find the right wines but to partner with the wineries who share Alaska’s values around quality and sustainability. Developing those relationships with wineries allows Alaska to offer great West Coast wines to their guests.
After identifying potential wines, the team then called on the expertise of certified sommelier Jonathan Hardy — a veteran of the restaurant industry for more than 15 years and now the lead sommelier at Stoneburner in Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood. Together, Hardy and the team tasted each of the potential wines before making their final selections.
“We really looked into what would play well in the air when you’re thirty- or forty-thousand feet up,” said Hard. When looking for the right wine, particular focus was placed on those with flavor profiles that would pair well with Alaska’s food options.
Out of reverence for the winemaker and the passenger, they looked for wines that would taste the same at high altitude as on the ground: usually, wines with lower levels of acidity, higher levels of sugar, less tannins, and bigger, velvety mouthfeel.
“We looked for wines more voluptuous in texture, not so dry, and softer all around,” added Hardy.
So, what do the wines actually taste like? Here’s a closer look at the winter wines:
Chamisal Vineyards 2016 Stainless Chardonnay
Located just 10 minutes from San Luis Obispo, California in the cool and temperate Edna Valley, Chamisal Vineyards has been making wine since 1973 and today is committed to using sustainable practices in the winemaking process. Compared to other spots on the Central Coast, this valley region boasts a longer growing season — 2016 was an especially long harvest — allowing the grapes to mature longer on the vine. This produces much more deep and intense flavors, particularly compared to other wines you’ll find in that part of California. This extra time for maturation pays off in a few ways for this Central Coast Chardonnay: a beautiful bloom across the palate of ripe pineapple, Gala apples, pear, and candied lemon. As an unoaked wine, the wine finishes crisply with clean aromas of fig.
Ranch 32 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon
Award-winning Ranch 32 has produced a Cabernet Sauvignon with bright fruit flavors that’s perfect for kicking back on the plane. Grown in Monterey, California, the wine yields notes of black fruit, vanilla, and mocha — and smells like blackberries, currants, and plums. Aged in a barrel, the process creates a long, smoky oak finish. Just imagine a nice piece of chocolate cake or a drizzle of hot fudge with a sip of this meaty wine.
Broken Earth Winery 2014 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon
Broken Earth Winery comes straight out of warm Paso Robles, California, where the winemaker grows, ages and bottles the wine. Big wines present well at cruising altitude, and this 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon delivers with a full body of dark berry fruit and big oak flavors. Take a deep whiff of the glass, and you’ll find hints of tobacco and cedar along with blackcurrant.
Canoe Ridge Exploration Chardonnay
The menu will continue to feature Canoe Ridge Exploration Chardonnay as the white selection for the main cabin, and with good reason: The winemaker has earned over 13 90+ Best Buy scores from Wine Spectator. Originating from Horse Heaven Hills along the Columbia River, this South Central Washington Chardonnay opens with the fragrance of honeysuckle and offers ripe pear on the palate.
Which one do you like best?
Try all of the wines and let us know what you think! Have other favorite pairings while you travel? Let us know in the comments below.
Photos by Ingrid Barrentine.