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Wining and Dining at 30,000 ft

Welcome to our new blog called Wining and Dining at 30,000 ft. In this blog we will take a look into the world of wine and food on commercial airlines. Each month (or sooner is I have time) we will cover a commercial airline and review what wine and dining options are available. Airlines generally offer different selections depending on their destination in the world.

With that in mind, we will begin our review with North American domestic carriers. I may throw in an international carrier once in a while so readers can compare how different the services can be. With all that said, please sit back, place your tray tables down, your seats back, pour a glass of wine and let’s takeoff…

If you travel a lot like I do, you know the misery involved with the whole process. Trying to pack 25 pounds of clothes into a duffle bag to avoid the checked bag fees, arriving at the airport 3 hours early to stand in a 2 hour security line, being forced to throw out your toiletries because they could be used to hide bomb making materials, delays longer than the actual length of the flight, the wonderful selection of food items for sale on board, the list goes on and on. Ready to head out on your next vacation yet?

With the cutbacks at airlines and the obstacle course we are all forced to go through to get to our aircraft, it’s hard to find anything pleasant about an airline trip. However, if you look hard enough, and if you are in the right class of service, there are still some amenities left over from the bygone era of aviation.

In this months Wining and Dining at 30,000ft we are going to take a look at Continental Airlines. Continental is one of the few remaining domestic airlines that still offers free food in the main cabin.


While many airlines have switched to purchase on board offerings, Continental has managed to maintain this amenity at no cost to the economy passenger. However, beer, wine and other alcoholic drinks will cost you $5.00 in the economy cabin. In the main cabin Continental offers the following selections:

Ch Vieux Parc Corbieres 2004*
Fisheye Merlot
Fisheye Chardonnay
Jean-Louis Cuvee Blanc de Blancs Brut (sparkling wine)*
Louis Montillier Chardonnay 2005*
UMA Shiraz
UMA Chardonnay
* On international flights, Continental may substitute regional specialties for the regular beverage selections.

Food pairing in the main cabin is fairly simple and is based upon the length of the flight. For flights less than one hour you will be provided with just a beverage option. If your flight lasts 1 hour to 1.5 hours, you can expect to pair any selection above with either a bag of nuts or pretzels. For flights lasting 2 to 3.5 hours you can expect to pair any selection above with a snack at non meal times and a sandwich hot/cold at lunch/dinner. For flights lasting over 3.5 hours there you can pair any above selection with a hot meal at lunch/dinner.

In the first class cabin, the selection of wines and meal choices is fairly extensive. Below you will find the current wine selections for Continentals BusinessFirst class:

Champagne/Sparkling Wine

Charles de Fère Jean-Louis Brut, Blanc de Blanc NV
Heidsieck Monopole Blue Top
J.P. Chenet Brut

White Wine

New World
A to Z Chardonnay 2007
Laetitia Pinot Blanc
St. Supery Sauvignon Blanc 2007

Bouchard Pere Et Fils St Veran
Château Toumillion
Domaine LaRoche Chablis

Schloss Reinhart Shaussen “Fountain Blue” Riesling 2007

Barberani Vallesanta 2007
Moletto Pinot Grigio

Red Wine

New World
Cline Cellars Ancient Vines Zinfandel 2007
Rock Bare Shiraz 2006
Rodney Strong Pinot Noir 2005

Domain de Beaurengard Cotes Du Rhone 2006
Ogier Vacqueyras Rhone 2007
French Bordeaux
Château LaGrange Lussac 2006
Château D’Argadens 2005
Château Loudenne 2004
Château LaGrange Lussac 2006

Straccali Chianti 2003

Dom Martinho
Ferreira Grand Red Douro 2003

South American
Telteca Anta Malbec
Miguel Torres Sangre de Toro 2003


Dow’s Fine White Port
Quinta do Noval

Again, meal selections are based upon the length of the flight. For first class flights under 1 hour, you will be provided with just a beverage option. If your flight lasts 1 hour to 1.5 hours, you can expect to pair any selection above with either a bag of nuts or pretzels. On flights lasting 1.5 hours and up, a full meal will be offered. As an example of what you may find, we will take a look at the menu for a September 2009 flight between Newark Liberty International, NJ and London Heathrow. This flight departs at 10pm and the dinner menu is as follows:

Warm roasted nuts with your preferred cocktail or beverage

A demitasse of seafood bisque with lump crabmeat
accompanied by mini beef Wellington
and a tandoori chicken skewer with ancho chili sauce

Salad and warm breads

Fresh seasonal greens and frisée with sliced tomato, red onion,
corn and a Kalamata olive

Your choice of Cabernet Sauvignon vinaigrette
or Parmesan peppercorn dressing
Freshly baked garlic bread and assorted rolls with butter

The Chef’s Selection

Grilled Sterling Silver™ New York sirloin steak with pepper rub
and herb glaze, sautéed spinach, roesti potatoes and a piquillo
pepper filled with stewed eggplant and fresh mozzarella cheese

Seared Breast of Chicken
Filled with fontina cheese and spinach, accompanied by Port
wine sauce, creamy polenta, broccolini and carrots

Seared Turbot
With extra virgin olive oil, parslied potatoes and braised fennel,
served over tomato and olive ragoût and fine green beans

Pasta Bowl
Crescent-shaped pasta with truffle and potato filling, creamy
mushroom sauce, caramelized onion and truffle butter,
grilled fresh green asparagus, topped with roasted red tomato
and freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Select American and imported cheeses, grapes, assorted
gourmet crackers and bread, served with Port wine

Edy’s Classic Grand vanilla ice cream with choice of toppings
or an assortment of petite pastries

Fresh Brew® gourmet roasted regular and decaffeinated coffee
made exclusively for Continental Airlines or tea with your
choice of milk or lemon

If you visit the Continental Airlines web site at and click on the Travel Information link it will take you to the BusinessFirst Dining page where you can look at Continental’s wine list and menus based on destinations. Airlines will often change menus with each season and may change on a monthly basis. If you travel a lot be sure to check their web sites often to insure you are up to date on the current wine and food offerings.

Well, our Wining and Dining experience at 30,000ft is nearing an end. I hope you have enjoyed the trip, please bring your tray table up, seat back forward and buckle your safety belt in preparation for landing. Until next month, salude!


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