Delta’s $4 International Business Class Sparkling Wine

TravelZork shares with me the wine menu from his Delta business class Boston – London Heathrow flight last week. Delta impresses me in business class with some of their wines.

First of all Charles Heidsieck is a very good champagne for business class, something that Singapore serves.


Singapore Airlines Business Class Predeparture Champagne

And second I commend them for offering a sauternes, even if a fairly undistinguished one. The The Château Clarke on this menu could be decent in a few years probably not drinkable yet.

But here’s what was really striking. Off menu they were serving Andre as their predeparture champagne.

And while some would argue that Andre is better than Korbel and Cooks, this is sparkling wine they sell at Walmart that you can buy for $4.

Many airlines refuse to open ‘the good stuff’ on the ground because they have to pay tax what they open in a jurisdiction. They’ll save the expensive bottles, usually in first class, for the air where serving it is tax free. Delta of course doesn’t have a first class.

Perhaps Delta would let you spend miles for better champagne in the club and bring it onboard to drink. Just make sure to give it to the flight attendant to pour and don’t do it yourself.

I reached out to Delta and fortunately they told me that the Andre was a mis-cater, “The pre-departure wine that should have been served is Mito Brut, which is an Italian Sparkling wine.” Still nothing close to the Heidsieck but not Andre!

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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  1. I have been served Andre as pre-departure twice in Delta One international flights. I don’t think it’s always a mis-cater.

  2. When did Delta switch to Charles Heidsieck? On my last trip in DeltaOne last fall they were still serving Lanson Black Label in the air and some Prosecco on the ground for pre-departure (the exact pre-departure wine seemed to vary depending on the departure airport. Charles Heidsieck is a definite improvement from Lanson Black Label which was fairly nondescript.

    Delta also didn’t offer Champagne on our ATL:VCE or FCO:ATL in air from their beverage cart pre-meal, for refills, or for dessert. You had to make a point of requesting it and then they would either pull a bottle out of the galley to pour at our seats or take our glasses away to fill them in the galley.

    Flying DeltaOne DTW:AMS on the A350 in about a month, curious to see if it’s Charles Heidsieck and if they’ve changed their approach to serving Champagne vs all of their other wines and spirits.

  3. Delta doesn’t pay duty for serving alcohol on the ground in Boston as a US-flagged airline.

  4. That’s the stuff our favorite divey bar/pizza place used to give away on pub trivia night. Classy.

  5. Wow, that’s really bad. I used to buy that when I was social chairman of my fraternity for champagne brunch socials. Talk about a nasty hangover. Are they serving Busch Light as one of the beers on board, too?

  6. DLPTATL says:
    When did Delta switch to Charles Heidsieck?

    As far as I know, when they switched to the new “Spring” Delta One Menu, about two weeks ago. It’s a really nice NV, IMHO.

  7. I remember 7 years ago or so they were serving proper champagne in proper glass as PDB for my ATL-LHR flight.

    DL (others too) certainly have fallen down far in this area.

    The tax concern is silly. They probably get those champagne in bulk with some nice discounts, so the tax is probably only $5-10 per international longhaul flight.

  8. If a miscater, perhaps the Andre was intended for Delta’s premium select (premium economy). Delta serves PDBs, juice, water and sparkling wine/champagne, in premium select, only A350-900s presently.

  9. Well, if they’re serving Andre’s faux champagne…er sparkling wine…”intentionally ‘miscatered’”/unofficially-official or not, the least they can do is also offer Andre’s better known, or perhaps ‘iconic’ sparkling red wine, Cold Duck?!?! Hehehe!

  10. Two things come to mind. First is that most people wouldn’t even know the difference. The other is the slang term “Two Buck Chuck” 🙂

  11. We served Andre during my graduation party from university. This was many years ago and many savings account ago. It was tasteless then and I cannot imagine it has improved since.

  12. john says:
    “If a miscater, perhaps the Andre was intended for Delta’s premium select (premium economy). Delta serves PDBs, juice, water and sparkling wine/champagne, in premium select, only A350-900s presently.”

    There is no “premium select,” or A350 service ex-BOS at this time. I believe all transatlantic service ex-BOS is 767s and A330s (for one BOS-AMS flight).

  13. Random thoughts.

    —>. I’m sorry, but no one with any experience (as opposed to 10 random friends) would pick Gallo’s charm-process “Andre” brand above a méthode traditionelle sparking wine, even though Korbel is but a shell of what it once was. (For those ten, congratulations — you can save “beaucoup bucks”!)

    —>. Yes, as Nic points out above, you can see the remnants of a price tag in the photo — indeed, the color of the price tag indicates it was on sale (or on close-out, which is highly unlikely). If it was a “mis-catering” issue, the bottle would have NO price tag on it. This is deliberate.

    —> Personally, I think this constitutes some form of false advertising. If Delta says they are serving (e.g.) n.v. Charles Heidsieck Brut Reserve in Business (approx. retail $50), where do they explain ” . . . but we serve the cheaper stuff while still on the ground”? I would be VERY upset if promised Charles Heidsieck (or Heidsieck Monopole, Piper-Heidsieck, or ANY French Champagne) in Business and instead reserved something else, whether it’s a Prosecco or an American bubbly. Classic “Bait & Switch.”

  14. Jason Brandt Lewis says:

    —>. Yes, as Nic points out above, you can see the remnants of a price tag in the photo — indeed, the color of the price tag indicates it was on sale (or on close-out, which is highly unlikely). If it was a “mis-catering” issue, the bottle would have NO price tag on it. This is deliberate.

    I do see what you are saying. But, I don’t think there is anything you can really read into with regard to that. I honestly had not noticed it. It might very well have been some type of inventory related label.

    For sure, Delta never serves the Champagne listed on the menu for PDB in Delta One. They always serve some form of bubbles that is not Champagne (often a Prosecco). I’ve flown a LOT of Delta One. BOS/AMS/LHR

    CH NV was DEFINITELY the Champagne for the flight since that was verified and a visual of the bottle was confirmed.

  15. LOL! Andre? Why, they should be giving that to people in coach….

    Though if you put it in Orange Juice, I doubt you could tell the difference….

  16. In the FWIW mode, that type of tag comes from a hand-held “price gun.” I’ll certainly grant you that I have no absolute proof it’s a price tag. But, typically, if inventory tags use the same type of gun and labels, they’re in white. Orange tags — which are more difficult to read at a glance — are used for sale prices. The tags are designed to *not* come off easily, but split, leaving the adhesive part behind, and the tag itself is pre-cut, meaning when you try to peel it off, the result will be that part of the tag is intact, and part will have the “top half” removed. (The only way to completely and easily remove the tag is with a razor blade.)

  17. I’m assuming they had better product to serve and ground crew/caterer/FA/whoever swiped and replaced with Andre w the price tag …

  18. Andre is a joke but you could probably make an argument that in a blind taste test it might be better than most Proseccos.

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