Emirates Spends 500 Million Dollars On Wine Program

Filed Under: Emirates

File this under “signs you have too much money.” 😉

Emirates is spending 500 million dollars (yes, $500,000,000!!!) on their wine program, with hopes of securing the best vintages a decade before they’re ready to be consumed.

Emirates first class bar

Emirates business class bar

Via Business Traveller:

Gulf carrier Emirates says it has made a US$500 million long-term investment in its wine programme, with aim of procuring the best vintages up to a decade before they are ready to be consumed.

The airline says it has a strategy of buying the best vintages for future consumption “en primeur” – often before the wines are bottled and released to market.

This has seen Emirates amass over 1.2 million bottles in its own cellar in Burgundy, some of which will not be ready for another decade.

But what does that mean concretely? Will they finally switch from Dom to Krug? 😉

Dom vs. Krug

The only short term improvement mentioned in the article is that Emirates will be serving Dom Perignon 2003 Rose in first class for a “limited time” on their new A380 frequencies to San Francisco and Houston:

The carrier says it offers “world leading” vintages including the Dom Perignon 2003 Rose (being served in first class for a limited time on its A380 services to San Fransisco and Houston), and vintages from labels from “France’s most prestigious vineyards” including Château Lafite, Château Margaux, Château Latour, Château Haut-Brion, and Château Mouton-Rothschild.

While I don’t love Dom 2003, the rose is quite nice based on what I’ve heard, so I’d count that as a win.

I do wish that Emirates had rose on offer as a standard feature in first class. Qatar Airways offers a nice champagne and rose in both first and business class, so I’m surprised Emirates doesn’t even do that regularly in first class.

Qatar Airways first class champagne and rose

I tried to ask my dad for his thoughts on this development, though he wasn’t available for immediate comment. 😉

If he were available, I’m sure his thoughts on this 500 million dollar investment would be somewhere along these lines:

(Tip of the hat to Peter)

  1. Etihad can save so much money on this. They can say they’re doing it too, but then run out of everything, so they won’t need to buy the product.

  2. En primeur means you’re buying wines before it’s bottled. Historically, it was a pretty decent way of speculating with wine, but since a bit before 2008, the markets overheated. Like stocks, wine can be either overvalued or undervalued.

    Typically, en primeur investments are made in red or white, as their release cycle is much quicker than with champagne. Essentially, you’re securing a 2012 vintage now, instead of ~36 months after harvest.

    I think this is an *excellent idea*, as e.g. Bordeaux wines need to be drunk after some maturity, not right off the bat. This goes especially for “grande” vintages, that tend to be less mature when they are released.

    Having said that, I really hope Emirates doesn’t kill off us normal collector’s hobby by upping the game!

  3. I’m flying first DXB-SFO in late February. Here’s to hoping that falls in the limited time window (though I’m not hopeful) since I would LOVE tRy to DP rosé.

  4. cool! on my BA First flight a few months ago the person in front of me told the FA to just “leave the bottle of the the Taittinger Rose here. I’m drinking my dinner tonight”

  5. Well, if you want to be the best airline in the world, you need to make this kind of investments. Hopefully they have on board when I fly them next month IAH-DXB.

    BTW I agree 100% with what @jonas said!

  6. Good Bordeaux (first growth) and Burgundy (Grand Cru/Premier Cru) does not plateau in ten years more like twenty. The 2005 vintage more like 30. As far as champagne goes, drink RM champagne and not NM. Grand Cru, Blanc de Blanc, Extra Brut RM can be had for much less than the silly prices for Dom. The 2003 vintage is absolutely undrinkable…thats the burnt vintage all over france. While the airlines all employ big names to pick their wines such as Jeannie Cho Lee for SQ, she (on twitter) seems to clearly prefer Leroy Bourgogne but sticks the Suites passenger with 2007 Poyferre (another very weak vintage) and Louis Latour! Perhaps we should drink what she drinks and not what she sticks us with even if it is SQ Suites!

    In that respect the best wine I have ever had was on Jet from Shanghai to San Francisco in Suites where they served 2002 Chambertin! Emirates does much better than most as Emirates has money and oil so they can “shower” you with benefits but their FAs despite the last few posts from Ben will in general be distracted and seem to hate their jobs but stick in it for the money.

    Heres to good drinking…

  7. Long term money saving program without doubt, question is will Emirates or one of the other ME3 carriers ever end up buying whole wine yards?

    Vertical integration might make sense if you are buying this much wine year after year ?

    A glass of Chateau Emirates anyone?

  8. Lucky, take everything that comes out of the Dubai Media Machine with a grain of salt. They do love to inflate numbers, and not every announcement they make is true or will happen. Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie were announced to be buying a home on one of the man made islands in Dubai. Except it wasn’t true. And they were going to build a chess city – a collection of buildings designed as chess pieces – except that never happened too.

    Now, I’m not saying everything coming out of there isn’t true, they do have the tallest building in the world and the largest mall in the world too. But this is a long term payment strategy…they may have announced they will spend half a billion dollars, but in the long term, they could only end up spending a fraction of that. But, that is what the DMM does…it makes huge announcements like this to keep it’s name in the media hoping people will keep talking about it…

    Also, love how a post about Emirate’s wine plan somehow became another post about your upscale champagne preferences 😉 We get it, you love the good bubbly…

  9. I don’t understand how a “complex” wine, and by complex I mean important red vintages of the likes of Brunello or Amarone (just to stick to Italian ones) can be enjoyed in an airplane while at home it takes at least 1 or 2 hours to decant properly. This is even more true when you open red wines that need to age for other 5 to 10 years. Champagne is much easier to handle.
    If we’re talking about top notch products, like the Suites or Residencies then it could make sense to load a couple of decanters on each flight.

  10. @marcus. Emirates is a Dubai-backed airline. Dubai has neither oil nor money. Dubai does have a lot of debt, which is back-stopped by Abu Dhabi.

  11. I wish they had vintage wines like chateau lafite 1982? I mean doesn’t have to be unlimited, but reserve for a glass per first class on paid ticket or something might be a good idea to draw finest luxury flyers

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