Cathay Pacific’s Wine List Now Boasts Top-Tier Chinese Wines… Which Are Really Good

And a lot of great grub to match...

Cathay Pacific’s Wine List Now Boasts Top-Tier Chinese Wines… Which Are Really Good

Image: Cathay Pacific

Cathay Pacific has always enjoyed a strong reputation for its food and drinks, particularly in the premium cabins. Now, their selection includes a few surprises from the left field…

Top-Shelf Chinese Wines

Cathay Pacific flights for its premium cabin passengers kick off with the requisite pre-departure drink, which depending on the time of day and how much champagne you consumed in The Wing lounge before boarding, could be just what you need.

Once airborne, Cathay Pacific is better known for its way-above-average premium cabin house spirits than wine — think Absolut Vodka, Bombay Gin, Campari, Johnny Walker Gold Reserve, and Hine Rare VSOP cognac.

Wines are your standard business class mix of mid-tier new and old world offerings: two whites and two reds, plus champagne and a dessert wine on longer flights, and one red and white wine, plus champagne and dessert wine on shorter flights. Business class fizz onboard Cathay’s flights this year include Alaya Brut Majeur and Billecart-Salmon Brut.

RELATED: Cathay Pacific A350 Business Class Review

Cathay Pacific business class wine menu

However, for the past several months, Cathay has been serving its first and business-class passengers wine from Chinese vineyards. Among other things, this is designed to show how much the Chinese winemaking industry has improved in recent years, with companies such as LVMH group and DBR Lafite moving into the country.

Recently, Cathay has served three wines from Ningxia-based wineries Grace Vineyards, Silver Heights and Xige Estate in business class, and the 2020 vintage of the DBR Lafite-backed Domaine de Long Dai was pouring in first class. Ronald Khoo, Cathay Pacific’s Wine, Spirits and Beverages Manager, called Domaine de Long Dai’s “precise approach” to winemaking “very impressive.”

Soup and wine on Cathay Pacific business class
Pairs perfectly with your soup for starters… Image: DMARGE

As you’d expect, the drinks list in first class is a step up from business class. The airline is currently pouring a 2004 Krug in the first-class cabins, along with crowd-pleasers such as a French burgundy, Kiwi sauv-blanc, Italian Sangiovese, and Portuguese Tawny Port. There is also usually Johnnie Walker Blue Label and Glenmorangie Signet Single Malt Scotch Whisky rattling around the first-class galley.

Cathay Pacific’s Long Haul a la carte Food Menu

Cathay Pacific’s long-haul business class typically includes a choice of two starters, five main courses, a cheese plate, and four desserts, while, like the trimmed short-haul wine list, shorter-haul flights typically feature two starters, three mains, a cheese plate and two desserts. Things are slightly more elaborate in first class, an eat-what-you-wish affair featuring refined Western and Chinese dishes. There is, of course, caviar with blinis, chives, crème fraiche, and chopped eggs to start proceedings.

Suffice to say, we ate well on this flight… Image: DMARGE

Cathay’s business class menus usually give a nod to the destination. On flights to India, paneer Charminar might appear, while a Hong Kong-bound flight might include fish ball and cuttlefish ball with flat rice noodle soup. Flights to or from Western cities include a Western main course option. Slow-cooked beef short rib with thyme jus is an example currently appearing on many Cathay flights.

One of the best perks of flying any business or first class on Cathay Pacific is the ability to choose your meal in advance, from ten days out up to 24 hours before departure. On selected long-haul routes, including on flights to London, Paris, New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Toronto, Vancouver, Sydney, and Melbourne, passengers have access to what the airline calls its “Cathay Signatures,” which it styles as a “curated menu of our most iconic flavours.”

Cathay Pacific Business Class menu

It’s akin to Singapore Airlines’ Book the Cook offering, which provides premium cabin passengers with a restaurant-length menu… as long as you lock the order in 24 hours before departure. Cathay’s Signature choices change and depend on the route, but business class examples include wok-fried chicken with black bean, and Hong Kong-style curry prawns.

The airline also has been busy promoting Cathay Signatures on social media in recent weeks, with lots of hazy food porn photo shots, suggesting a range of new meal offerings are coming soon.

Breakfast Doesn’t Take A Back Seat

The tail end of a long flight often includes breakfast, which can be a pretty hit-and-miss affair on other airlines — stale pastries, rock-hard butter, and reheated eggs cooked four lifetimes ago. But Cathay’s long-haul breakfast business class menu is pretty decent.

It includes a “wellness” choice (think berries, flaked coconut, and flax seeds), congee with chicken and oats, a Western-style breakfast (for example, bacon and onion soufflé with sausage and potato cake), a continental breakfast (pastries and cold cuts), and an express breakfast, being a pastry and coffee. Things are slightly more bougie in first class — your yoghurt comes with pomegranate molasses, the omelette is “open,” and the sampan congee comes with a dim sum selection on the side.

Our delicious wellness breakfast… plus choccy croissant. Image: DMARGE

Cathay Pacific has its fans and detractors, but we simply can’t deny that the inflight experience is improving by the month. The enviable food and drinks offering, solid choice of flights to and from Australia, outstanding lounges in Hong Kong, and good connections to the rest of the world keep Cathay right up there with the best airlines in the sky.

Combine your Chinese Wine experience with a visit to Cathay’s The Wing Lounge for a slice of luxury.