The first is Linda Murphy, who is based in Sonoma County near the Napa Valley and is one of the world’s most sought after wine judges. The second, Fongyee Walker is based in Beijing and is the co-founder of Dragon Phoenix Wine Consulting, leaders in Chinese wine education and consultancy.
The airline has restricted the wines served in the economy and premium economy class cabins to Villa Maria group labels but can select from all winemakers for its business class customers.
Murphy told the New Zealand Herald she had enjoyed New Zealand wine for more than 15 years and the selection role for the airline was a great opportunity to help further promote this country’s wine in the United States.
She said most Americans drank red wine on planes and they would be pleasantly surprised at the quality of New Zealand reds from Hawkes Bay, Central Otago and Marlborough.
Wines on planes needed “oomph” because passengers’ palettes were often dulled in the air. This favoured New Zealand over old world wines because they were more “electric” and had more character.
Murphy and Walker join the airline’s two existing New Zealand-based wine consultants and judges Jim Harre and John Belsham in the selection of around one million bottles of wine annually.
The airline’s chief marketing and customer officer Mike Tod said Asia and the United States were two critical markets for Air New Zealand.
“Our wine selection for inflight and in lounges is a key element of our customer experience. Linda and Fongyee will bring an intimate knowledge of which style of New Zealand wines will bring the most enjoyment to customers originating in their respective parts of the world.”
The two women will be in New Zealand in July to share their experience with Kiwi winemakers. They will take part in their first Air New Zealand wine selection in October.