These Delta Air Lines Business Class Wines Are Appalling

A reader recently flew Delta Air Lines business class from London Heathrow, and snapped photos of the wines being offered. I was appalled. The white was actually the same one being served in economy. It was a $5 Hidden Creek 2018 white blend. If the flight were still on the ground in the EU I believe it would legally have to be marketed as ‘table wine’.

They also had Match Book chardonnay, which I’d expect to pay ~ $10 for. Apparently there was only one bottled boarded. These are the kinds of wine I might not be disappointed to be offered in domestic first, but certainly not transatlantic business class.

While my correspondent shared that a flight attendant told him “the wine served these days [in Delta business class] is the biggest complaint they get” Delta tells me it was a miscater,

We apologize to our customers – due to a minor catering supply issue, the crew was not able to serve its normal, full complement of wines.

I’m told Delta should have bene serving Jordan Cabernet and Sterling Heritage Chardonnay, the Jordan being a premium bottle relative to what I’d expect Delta to pay for.

Meanwhile, the reader continued,

They don’t even proactively offer champagne. It’s not on the cart. They keep it hidden in the galley.

In economy, premium-economy and also Delta One pre-departure, the bubbles is a Delta-branded Mionetto off-dry prosecco. Mionetto-labeled prosecco is about $8 a bottle. …Oh yeah, no more dessert cart with cheese, coffee, tea and port.

I’ve written in the past about Delta serving $4 Andre as their predeparture sparkling wine which when called out the airline claimed was a mistake. But they’ve also served Cooks in lounges. Again, they identified it as a supply chain issue.

Delta never seems to mis-cater with better wines than intended. In my view, when the airline fails to deliver, they should be proactively apologizing. A little rebate on that 700,000 mile one way award ticket perhaps?

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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Comments

  1. Jordan cab is a nice choice thanks for clarifying and making us aware

    The meal service itself is still abysmal compared to what even KLM is offering

  2. I’m going to hazard a guess there’s no way these were “miscaters” simply because they are California wines that no self-respecting caterer would carry at LHR. There are plenty of cheap French or Spanish or Italian wines they would have readily available, no way they have these imported from the US – they’re probably leftover from a previous flight. (If I wanted to conspiratorial, I’d say check the crew luggage, someone probably swapped out the good stuff for the leftovers and they pocketed the good stuff, but let’s hope the crew is more honest than that.)

    Sub-$10 wine from Europe is often quite good, although maybe not “business class” good. Still, it would be an upgrade from the plonk that was served. Sub-$10 US wine is rarely good.

  3. United served Wycliff Champagne on our IAD to Mexico City flight in Business Class…
    WYCLIFF BRUT CALIFORNIA CHAMPAGNE CHAMPAGNE BLEND
    $4.99
    Wycliff brut is a blend of premium california grapes with a touch of sweetness and a crisp clean finish. Wycliff sparkling wine is a focus for the on-premise channel and has a unique re-sealable twist and popa closure which opens and reseals quickly and easily preserving the fresh taste. – wycliff

  4. I agree with @C_M. Miscatering would mean a Nyetimber English sparkling wine (better than mediocre French champagnes). For still whites, a miscatering would result in a white Burgundy from France or maybe a pinot blanc or riesling from Alsace.

  5. As a rule, I’ll avoid asking for wine on board since it’s almost always swill on any airline. Get the soft drinks with dinner, and if I want something alcoholic, I’ll get the spirits. No missed expectations this way.

  6. Just did D1 on a 7 hour flight..No champagne on board and the wines were as above..horrid.. The HIdden Creek garbage is being served in some of the Sky CLubs also.. Delta can surely get better wines that are not $$$$$ they really need help with this…

  7. Peter and Fly So Hard

    It is NOT coincidental, that you were duped. It is by design. Just imagine how much, they save over a year? Your Business class, has been watered down

    These are the things happen, when you decide to fly a specific airline, anticipating you do.

    It’s almost criminal, that airlines and hotels find ways to reduce costs, while adding ridiculous charges for a mirror or lightbulbs.

    I call it, “creative sex”, with no foreplay!

  8. Agreed. We flew from Dallas to London last month and the wines were horrible – the meal was way below par to the point of nearly inedible…. In both directions. We flew Premium select (supposedly “like” business, what a joke that is!) but it was at best a glorified coach with a slightly better seat.

    The pre-board wine wasn’t. Once in the air we were served what I at first thought was an empty glass. There was so little in it I thought he handed me an empty glass he was going to fill! Ha! Nope… literally not even a somewhat small mouthful! Maybe 2 small sips. And at best I’m sure it was a box wine. Oh wait… couldn’t have been. I’ve had better tasting wine from a box compared to whatever that garbage was!

    But I have to admit, it was better than the return flight from London. We didn’t get ANY wine and the meal was equally as putrid and disgusting in both looks and taste.

    I can’t tell you how disappointed we were with DELTA. They used to be our airline of choice, but I don’t think will be flying them again – just glad we’d used all of our Skymiles long before they started racing to the bottom of the heap!

  9. ChrisinNY

    Absolutely no one is Proud. Those decisions, come down from the top brass, aka “Board of Directors”.

    BOTTOM LINE! Pure and simple. Imagine how many customers, before you, didn’t pay attention, as it was never noticed, or at least, apparently no one “caught” it before you.

    Here’s the problem. NOTHING will be done, to rectify it. Unless, a sizeable number of Loyalty members, gang up on the Board of Directors.

    It could start with you. Go for it!

  10. ChrisInNY says:
    November 21, 2022 at 11:23 am
    Who at Delta is proud of buying those $5 bottles of wine?

    Well, obviously, the CFO.

  11. I suspect that Barefoot is actually better than both of those wines, although theoretically the estate-bottled chardonnay should be better. However, it’s probably just recipe wine; that is, wine made to taste like buttery, oaky California chardonnay as opposed to the terroir of the particular vineyard (Matchbook) or appellation (Dunnigan Hills AVA).

  12. ChrisInNY
    My guess is CEO Ed. Delta’s cost per mile flown is highest among domestic airlines. Got to get um down, so stick it to the passengers in the front of the plane. Crazy, right?!!

  13. “The meal service itself is still abysmal compared to what even KLM is offering”

    Which really speaks volumes given how awful most of the stuff on KLM has consistently been over the past 25 years….

    …and we have lovely memories of our last flight from Africa to Amsterdoom in which the seatback monitor was broken and flickering, so the flight attendant in the galley merely handed over a barf bag and two pieces of tape — this seemed like such a perfectly normal and routine thing for her, happens all the time no doubt. Why would she even bother to come to our seat when we could just do it ourselves Dutch-style. Then we stood in a line for over an hour at Amsterdoom to get through immigration in order to catch the onward EU flight … got barked at multiple times by the hall monitors.

    We will stick with Delta’s crappy wine selection any time after that experience.

  14. ChrisInNY

    Actually, that is probably part of the reason. Makes sense.

    The truth be known, both airlines and hotels, creat their special Loyalty programs, in the very same room, aka “Board room”, by the very same people.

    Now, isn’t that a coincidence? Not really. These special programs, are not to benefit the paying public. These industries, never do anything, that puts a “W” in their customers column.

    It always benefits, “moi”.

  15. If you are NOT happy with the product and or services provide my ANY airline I highly suggest you not fly that particular airline going forward. Take your money elsewhere. Maybe fly a MIddle Eastern Airline in First class and pay 25K round trip. Hopefully you will be satisfied with the wine selections onboard those Middle Eastern Airlines. You get what you pay for!

  16. Delta One 0046 JFK-AMS October 16; One red, one white on the cart, and the girl had no idea what they were called or where they cam from. Pre ordered the meal selection which was must better than the choice.
    Did KLM Business same route last week — Delta One never again.

  17. You guys, all we are missing is Tim Dunn’s intervention telling us the cheap wine Delta is serving is actually good for ourselves and the DOT. Quite strange he hasn’t chimed in just yet?!?!

  18. With the omicron outbreak last year, I had to make a last-minute swap to D1, ATL-CDG. I certainly enjoy a good glass of wine, but I can make do with a mediocre one. Good lord, one sip of that red and I couldn’t go further.

    Yeah, the food isn’t good, but I can eat it. The wine is better on Saudia.

  19. I was supposed to fly Delta from Zurich to JFK in the fall. Flight canceled. Rebooked business on Swiss Air to Paris and then Air France from Paris to Detroit. I was impressed by the food and wine for Zurich-Paris if only because it’s such a short flight. Air France food was okay but the wine was very nice. Only problem is Air France does not cater its wine in the US. So they conserve what they have for the return flight back to Paris, which meant they refused to stop serving chablis with about 2 1/2 hours left in the flight.

  20. Flew D1 FCO-JFK last month and the only decent thing was they had real champagne (some $40 brand I hadn’t heard of) but better than anything else by a mile.

  21. Go easy on Delta, guys! They ONLY got $20 billion in cash from US taxpayers. They are barely getting by and people here complain about 7-11 quality wine and 700,000 point SkyPeso redemptions.

    BTW, the champagne in the Flagship Lounges isn’t Taittinger anymore, We have to slum it with Piper Heidsieck.

  22. I’ve flown D1 between the East Coast and France (Paris and Nice) and Amsterdam a half-dozen times in the past few years and the wine is ALWAY AWFUL! I cannot drink cabernets because of the high tannins but the only reds ever offered were cheap cabs and worse red blends. Why? On three crossings of the pond I was lucky enough to fly Air France on a code-share flight. Needless to say, there was always a Pinot as well as a cab, and it was always delicious. Not to menionan excellent before dinner port. I flew UAL business class twice to Europe and the wines then were always at last satisfactory, as were the choices offered. Delta needs to get its act together….

  23. Trouble with Delta management is that they are all drinking the cool-air that Delta is the best and have lost touch with reality. Delta onboard service is abysmal and I have been delayed significantly on 5 of my last 6 flights all within the last 2 months.

  24. Delta first class domestic has been serving wine from a can for months now. Its the same Imagery wine cans served in economy, just poured into a glass. They are awful and feel extremely cost cutting.

  25. Bad wine! Oh, the horror!
    Reign it in Gary! The heroic pilots who are forced to fly the slave like soul killing amount of 40 hours A MONTH(!) can barely afford their third vacation home and a second mistress. Pushing that automatic pilot button is getting harder and harder. If the wine is below your “specifications” Gary, rest assured and leave it to the pilots. They will happily polish it off.
    They are the real heroes Gary, drinking all the bad wine so that others will not suffer!
    Everybody wants free caviar but nobody wants to pay for the hot dog!
    Hero pilot’s will pay the price…..

  26. All of you continuing to fly the 3 US airlines in front and expecting anything more than sub-par experiences will just continue to be disappointed.

    If you want actual service and decent F&B up front, stick with non-US based carriers. My money has been burned too many times thinking that ‘things are better now’ with AA, DL or UA. They’re not, and the “premium” experience is only getting worse.

    The only thing that can help is to lift the ban on protectionism and allow competition. You let SQ fly US routes and I guarantee the Big3 start catering at least $20 champagnes.

  27. DL could improve their wines if they partnered with Costco for Kirkland wines. Most of those are reasonably drinkable.

    BTW @Dave Daly — I was told last night by the FA in F on a DL flight that the cans were leaving at the end of November. DL was going back to something in bottles. He wasn’t clear on what it would be.

  28. Retired lawyer and Good people.

    I recently returned from Italy. I am purchasing a large vineyard/winery in Tuscany, to make my own wines for my properties. If anyone has been to this part of the world, you know, there are literally hundreds/thousands of wineries, and guaranteed, not one of you, know any winery names or will see them in airplanes or restaurants. There is a very good reason why.

    Personally, I have been around wines since the early, 70’s, and was a guest at Robert Mondavi winery’s, Opus One, wine cask breaking, in the early mid 70’s, at Mondavi vineyards in California. Not bragging, just telling the facts.

    I will tell you, unequivocally, over 50% of the wineries in Chianti, Tuscany, are as good or better than any of your favorite labels, that are served on airplanes or in restaurants. Never judge a book by its cover. Or should I say, a wine, by its label!

  29. Gary, having worked for an LCC for many years, I found it best to ask for a cup of ice with my wine. Ice makes nearly every wine drinkable and pair well with the meatball sandwich from the airport Subway shop.

  30. @ Bubba. LOL. If the wine is better on Saudia, it’s because you brought your own. Just don’t try and take it through SA Customs.

  31. @Robert I have lived many years in Tuscany, and do know the names of wineries and where to find their wines. And I must say, that they’re not all good. Nevertheless, the only one that DL’s offering could could possibly beat would be the wine my dormant tried to make. Poor chap, his vines must have been growing in a sulfur mine.

    Still, if you have the time to conduct the research, you can find some excellent wines among the smaller producers, and quite cheaply. Of course, if you need to procure wine to serve across an airline fleet, you’re going to have to deal with much larger producers who are capable of delivering consistency in large quantities.
    You also certainly know that a mediocre wine served at the right temperature, with proper aeration, and in the right glass, can taste a lot better than a significantly better bottle served outside of its envelope.
    A crappy cup of oak-chips-and-tartaric-acid splashed with grape juice from the Central Valley, served at 74 degrees above the drone of jet engines, however…

  32. Bubba

    You have a decided edge, having lived in Tuscany. I never said they all were good. 50% are acceptable to good.

    I went there to buy Ugo Bings winery, and Sant’Appiano that you are undoubtedly familiar with. Neither fit my program, so I am buying one further southeast.

    I learned, wineries have no avenue to sell, the capacity of their vineyard. Only about 35% are produced of the vineyard capacity. Many vineyards, as you know, sell their grapes, or work with Co-ops..

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