Hmmm: British Airways Will Make Their Own Sparkling Wine

Filed Under: British Airways

British Airways is celebrating their 100th anniversary this year, and they’re doing all kinds of special things to commemorate that (including devaluing their award chart, apparently).

They’ve now announced the next thing they’re doing to celebrate their anniversary.

British Airways introducing custom sparkling wine

Starting July 1, 2019, British Airways will serve a special English sparkling wine in their first class cabin, as well as in the Concorde Room at Heathrow Terminal 5.

This special sparkling wine is being produced by Hattingley Valley, and will be a 2015 Blanc de Noir.

It’s interesting to note that British Airways claims that this will taste great at altitude. Our taste buds are different in the air than on the ground, so I at least appreciate that they acknowledge that (though this sparkling wine will also being served in the lounge, so…?). Whether that’s marketing hype or not remains to be seen.

As British Airways’ Wine and Beverage Manager describes it:

“There’s no better, or more British way to toast our milestone year than with an English Sparkling Wine. We’ve loved working with Hattingley Valley to create something really special for our First customers and this will be the first time we have ever served an English Sparkling Blanc de Noirs on board. This blend will excel at altitude as the notes of red apple skins and light red fruits really shine through.”

Emma Rice, Hattingley Valley’s Director, had the following to say:

“English Sparkling Wine is now incredibly popular around the world so we’re thrilled to have partnered with British Airways to create an exceptional wine that can be enjoyed on the ground and in the air across their network.”

My take on British Airways’ sparkling wine

While there are some things that disappoint about British Airways first class, one thing that they’ve long done well is champagne. British Airways serves Laurent-Perrier Grand Siecle in both their first class cabin and in the Concorde Room.

I certainly hope that this limited edition sparkling wine is being served in addition to the regular champagne, which is known to be good.

Bigger picture, I have a couple of thoughts on this. Before I share those, let me note that I have no experience with Hattingley Valley — it could be that the sparkling wine is great, or it could be a bust. I don’t know. But I am flying British Airways first class this summer and look forward to trying it.

When it comes to luxury items, a lot of perceived quality comes from name recognition. I’m not saying that’s how it should be, but as humans we’re largely conditioned to think that something that’s more expensive or that’s known to be premium is better. Just look at the results from virtually any such experiment, or how much of a premium certain brands can charge for some products.

So I do find the concept of making your own sparkling wine to be odd. Not only is champagne widely considered to be superior to sparkling wine made outside of France (again, rightly or wrongly — that’s just the impression), but on top of that British Airways is basically making their own blend.

While price isn’t necessarily indicative of quality, looking at Hattingley Valley’s current selection of sparkling wines it seems that their standard 750ml bottles range from 25GBP to 80GBP.

Personally I’m in favor of this, and am excited to try it, assuming it doesn’t replace the champagne they otherwise serve. I’m also curious to see what the response from passengers is like.

What do you think — is it cool for British Airways to create their own sparkling wine to celebrate their anniversary, or just sort of weird?

  1. Flying First at the end of July.Will be interested to try but do hope they serve this alongside their Laurent-Perrier Grand Siecle.

  2. I’m all for patriotism but I tried some of their “British Champagne” in first class sin to syd and it was awful. The flight attendant said it was fantastic and poured a huge glass for me and one sip was all it took to know that I wasn’t ever going to try it again – it’ll be interesting to see how it goes…

  3. “English Sparkling Wine is now incredibly popular around the world “, they say. Is it though!? I think not. Not something I ever see outside maybe a Marks and Spencer franchise in Europe or SE Asia.

  4. When asked why he was still drinking French Champagne during the 1870-71 Franco-German War, Bismarck replied, “My patriotism stops at my stomach!” That said, I really can’t agree on the branding theory here; for Business Class, maybe name brands are the way to go, but I guess for First, most r

  5. This will play well with a domestic audience, there are some really great English sparkling wines now on the market (e.g. Nyetimber is consistently good) and the relevant wine producing region in England has very similar conditions to those of the Champagne region (they share the same soil – it’s not champagne, but it’s very good. This also chimes with the general move to “local” (i.e. UK-sourced) products that British Airways are going with at the moment, like the Brewdog beer offerings.

    The challenge will be with non-UK audiences who are less familiar with English sparkling wines, many of whom will perceive it as a downgrade

  6. ealize that all (all!) big brands are mass market and that only small, niche, or bespoke producers can be really good.

  7. The quality of English sparkling wines has improved dramatically in recent years (thanks global warming), but this will only work if they serve it as an option alongside the existing Grand Siecle… I wouldn’t think this was worthy of being the only sparkling option in an international First Class cabin, and I am sure BA wouldn’t try to do that.

  8. I’ve had some tremendous sparkling wines from as far north of Derbyshire. There are some minor upsides to the climate crisis.

    I’ve also had some truly terrible champagnes as well. Terroir only goes so far, it’s up to the skill of the winemaker.

  9. In short, as a French wine snob, there are a few things to take in consideration when making wines. Climate, soil, grapes and the craftsmanship of the winemaker would be my top 4.

    Now with temperatures rising, a lot of champagne houses have bought vineyard lands around the South of England because they’re finding similar climate and soils, and importing their grapes there.

    I’m afraid we might slowly get to a point where the best sparkling wines aren’t made in the Champagne region anymore… :'(

  10. Flying 1st from DFW to LHR in July. Will take one for the team and let you know how it is.

  11. There are some very nice sparklers out there that outdo many major Champagnes. Whether this offering may fit into that class who knows, but as Lucky says, it only makes sense if offered in addition to the current offerings of proper prestige products.

  12. OMG!! Can’t imagine if copycat United Airlines decides to make their own sparkling wine as well.

  13. I see the Queen severed a nice Windsor Sparkling white at the state banquet last night. If it’s good enough for QEII and Trump………… ( if only he drunk alcohol) lol.

  14. It’s British Airways: the seats and cabin crew are guaranteed to be ‘vintage’, but the wine will not be.

  15. BA aren’t making anything at all just slapping on some ‘BA 100’ branding on the label of a vintage / blend.

    Same as with the BA Marmite – just a different label.

  16. I hope it will come in pink. There is something so festive about a pink sparkly. I love watching the bubbles rising in a clean flute. Not a big drinker, you see!

  17. Repeating / confirming what a few people have said, many of the major Champagne houses have started buying land in southern England. From a geology standpoint, some of the soils are similar. And everyone is resigned to the fact that climate change will warm England up enough for the chardonnay, PN and PM grapes to grow well while it will be too hot for them in France, specifically Champagne. One factor not yet mentioned is yeast…. will producers import many vines and trees and buildings to try and have the same yeast strains.

  18. At my most common dining establishment, the house champagne is Ayala and last year they introduced the Hattingley Valley NV.
    I much prefer the latter – in a blind tasting I would not be able to identify it as not Champagne, and I think most people would similarly struggle with Nyetimber and Gusborne unless they could identify the particular wine.

    I happen to be not particularly keen on the Grand Siecle (I find it more floral than I like) and I usually prefer heavily, if not entirely, Blancs de Noirs (Bollinger vintage would be more my style), so if I had an F booking coming up this would be great news for me.
    Other people have different tastes, but as BA serves three bubblies in F (and a different three in J, which one can always ask for from F) there’s a better chance of finding a bubbly one likes on BA than on ?any other airline.

  19. I find most airline beverage options boring. The same companies supplying most airlines. While I’m sure it also has a cost benefit to them, I welcome some variety.

  20. I’m sorry. BA “first class” already has reputation as nice Business Class product. NO to British sparkling wine!

  21. Just…. no.
    I drink Italian wines 99% of the times, but when it comes to Champagne, there is only France. Though you can have excellent sparkling wines such as Franciacorta and the more commercially appealing Prosecco, Champagne is just a different thing.
    A wine popular in a country with no wine culture (no pun intended, but you have wine culture when a vast majority of people drink wine every day, and Britain is not the case) should not be served in first class.

  22. What a bunch of stupid comments about the quality of our excellent sparkling wine. Americans need to get out of their embarrassing bubble.

  23. This is not new. I have flown BA lots in first btw JFK-LHR for several years now. A few years ago they started offering British sparkling wine. I have tried them all and I like them a lot.

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