It’s an exciting time at WestJet, as our aircraft fly internationally, and we introduce a new selection of international wines on board all WestJet flights. If you’re looking for variety, we’ve got you covered with a selection of varietals to choose from. Whether you’re new to wine or an aficionado, your palette will be pleased with our carefully selected wines. And for those of you wanting a taste of home, we will continue to feature Canadian wine in our Plus cabin from time-to-time, always seeking new Canadian selections as we rotate our offerings.
So, how did we go about choosing our final selection for you to savour when on board? Well, it was a tall task that’s for sure and one we were more than ready to dedicate some of our work days to. For such a large undertaking, in order to cater to many of our 22 million guests annually who enjoy a drink when they travel, we brought in some trusted wine experts. Together, with Carl Boucher and Ben Gosselin from Calgary-based CBG Wine Consulting, more than 500 wines were tasted in the first round. From there, the tasting list dropped to 118, and we ended up with a shortlist of 26, which represented 13 different varietals from 10 regions. After careful review, our final selections hail from four of the best wine regions in the world: France, Spain, Italy and South Africa.
We think that all of our guests will enjoy indulging in a new wine experience from flight-to-flight. After all, they do say that variety – or in this case, varietal – is the spice of life.
Q & A with Carl Boucher and Ben Gosselin, owners of CBG Wine Consulting
Recently, Carl Boucher and Ben Gosselin – owners of CBG Wine Consulting – took time to answer questions that will intrigue all wine lovers.
Q. What was it like to source wine for WestJet?
A (Carl). The opportunity for us to bring the world of wine on board WestJet…new flavours, new countries and wine regions, was one of the most exciting things for us.
Q. Our senses of taste and smell changes at 40,000 feet. How did you factor this into your final selection of wines for WestJet?
A (Carl). We try to keep in mind that with pressurized air and low humidity on board, sweet gets sweeter and dry gets dryer. Also, we try to stay away from wine with high acidity and bigger tannic structure. Balance is always the key.
Q. WestJet flies over 22 million guests annually. How did you select wines for such a large audience?
A (Ben). This was very challenging for us. We wanted to ensure that we selected wines that wouldn’t just speak to the day-to-day collector, or the one per cent of fine wine drinkers, but the other 99 per cent – the everyday wine lover. We went all over. With our background, we probably taste 50-75 wines per week, so you really have to think of what people will like. I mean, you want to make sure it tastes great on its own, or even goes nicely with chips or NIBS licorice. We tend to lean towards a blend because it appeals to a wider audience.
Q. Of the new wines you selected, do you have a favourite, and why?
A (Carl). The Tempranillo-Grenache (Spain) is a very new world flavour profile, very fruity, but something new from an old world (wine) country. That’s exciting!
Q. Is it rare to have new wine come from an old world wine country?
A (Carl). You know, dollars signs talk. When the new world wines came out, from California, Argentina, Chile, Australia, the old world market lost a big share of the market, so they had to make their wine in line with what people were drinking. And the new generation of drinkers are drinking a different product, so the old world had to adjust. That’s why the Spanish, who used to make really rustic type of wine, had to change their flavour profile and modernize their technique, the way (and what time) they harvest the grape to suit a more modern audience. And all of this is why it’s exciting to bring something new to WestJet guests, because WestJet is about excitement and something new, and doing things differently than other airlines. It was important to us to follow that lead, and offer something new like wines from South Africa, and even France and other new flavour profiles.
Q. What did you like most about helping build WestJet’s new wine program?
A (Ben). I think the cool thing is to build a wine program that’s the same personality as WestJet. Something that people get excited about. We want our program to be fun and unexpected.
Q. With the new varieties of wines available, what food pairings do you suggest?
A (Carl). Well, the Tempranillo-Grenache (Spain) with four cheese pizza is a no-brainer, the classic Fleuriot Cabernet Sauvignon (France) and cheese tray is really nice, and as for Prosecco (Italy), well that goes great with everything!
We hope you come on board soon and soar, sip, and savour our new selection. It’s perfectly paired with WestJet.
Also, let us know what you think of our new wine selection by tagging us in a post on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, and be sure to add the #WestJet hashtag.