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Thursday, June 13, 2013

Sampling oneworld Premium Services: Japan Airlines New York JFK to Tokyo Narita First Class Drink Menu

Ms Fumiko Arisaka was in charge of JAL First Class wine list
Ms Fumiko Arisaka was in charge of JAL First Class wine list

As you have seen in my previous post on First Class amenities, Japan Airlines (JAL) has a separate drink menu in First Class. In Business Class, you would only get an insert to the menu telling you what the wine and drink options are. Not in First Class!

Ms. Fumiko Arisaka has been in charge of JAL wine list for a long time. She is one of the leading wine journalists in Japan. A lot of JAL cabin attendants (CA) are also qualified members of the Japan Sommeliers' Association and have in depth knowledge of wines. Therefore, they also assist Ms. Arisaka to carefully select the wines to be served onboard.

There are 2 versions of the First Class drink menu, one for New York JFK and London Heathrow, and the other for Los Angeles, Chicago, Paris, Frankfurt and Jakarta. I haven't done the comparison yet, but I believe if there are any differences, it will be in the wine and champagne selections. And you will have to wait until I get to my flight to Jakarta to find out (or you could look up on JAL website) :P

JAL First Class liqueur & spirit menu
JAL First Class liqueur & spirit menu.

The first thing listed are the liqueur and spirit. As you can see, JAL has a very extensive list of liqueur and spirit. I don't really drink alcohol, but my co-worker who does told me this is some really good stuffs and I will take his words for it.

Next in the menu is the champagnes. One thing I really like about this menu is that JAL actually gives detail descriptions of each of the wine, champagne and sake offered. This is could really help those  who aren't familiar with wines to decide on what they want.

JAL JL005 First Class Trip Report: JAL exclusively offers Champagne SALON 1999 in First Class
JAL exclusively offers Champagne SALON 1999 in First Class 

There are two different kinds of champagnes offered on today's flight. They are the JAL exclusive Champagne SALON 1999 and Champagne Dom Pérignon 2003. It's a no brainer for me to order SALON given this is an exclusive offering on JAL First Class. If you want SALON up in the air, you have to fly First Class with JAL (or if you own or rent a private jet I guess). Given I have absolutely zero knowledge in wine and champagne, I will just let JAL describe it for you, as it did for me in the menu.

Salon, since the launch of its first vintage in 1921, produces the Champagne Salon only in years when the harvest meets their high standard, and 1999 is the latest vintage among them. Savoring Champagne Salon at 40,000 ft. is a privilege that can only be enjoyed by you, the first-class travelers on JAL.In 1999, the Champagne region experienced a hailstorm in May, however enjoyed a warm August, steadily nurturing the Chardonnay. Already possessing ample maturity, the 1999 vintage expands mellow fruitiness. Rich acidity in an elegant style. One of a kind and only the best. This is the quintessence of Champagne Salon.


JAL JL005 FIrst Class Trip Report: Enjoying Champagne SALON at 40,000 feet in JAL First Class.
Enjoying Champagne SALON at 40,000 feet in JAL First Class.

Trying out SALON is one of the few things I was really looking forward to before my trip. I have heard lots of good things about this champagne. And I got to say, SALON did not disappoint me at all! Other champagnes I had onboard tend to be too dry for my taste but not this time. Because of that, I didn't even bother trying the other champagne on the menu at all :P

Following the champagne section are the white wines, red wines and Japanese sake. Since I didn't try any of them (sorry no photos as a result), I will simply list them below.

White Wine
Bourgogne France
Domaine du Pavillon Corton Charlemagne Grand Cru 2007

Alsace France
Gustave Lorentz Pinot Gris Grand Cru Kanzelerberg 2005

Germany
Weingut St .Urbans-Hof Wiltinger Alte Reben Riesling Kabinett Feinherb 2010

Katsunuma Japan
Arvga Branca Vinhal Issehara 2010

Red Wine
Bordeaux France
Château Rauzan-Ségla Margaux 2007

Bourgogne France
Domaine Michel Gros Nuits Sanit Georges 2006

California U.S.A.*
KENZO ESTATE "rindo" 2007

* For Norther America and Jarkata routes only. JAL will serve Kusuda Wines Syrah Martinborough 2009 from New Zealand on the European routes

The Passion of Japan - Premium Japanese Sake Junmai-Dai-Ginjyoshu
Hiroki
Hakurakusei

The Passion of Japan - Premium Japanese Shochu
Gokujyo Mori Izo
Kanehachi

JAL JL005 First Class Trip Report: ROYAL BLUE TEA "Queen of Blue"
ROYAL BLUE TEA's "Queen of Blue"

Other than these alcoholic drinks, JAL also have something special for the non-drinkers. One of the special drinks on the menu is ROYAL BLUE TEA's "Queen of Blue". Basically it is a premium Japanese tea in a wine bottle. According to JAL, this "ultimate tea" is only made from the finest hand-picked tea leaves at Shonan Cha Kobo and is produced one-by-one. These tea leaves are very rare as they are only picked once a year during the summer time.


JAL serves ROYAL BLUE TEA's "Queen of Blue" in a wine glass.
JAL serves ROYAL BLUE TEA's "Queen of Blue" in a wine glass.

The Queen of Blue has won the MONDE SELECTION Gold award for 3 consecutive years in 2007, 2008, and 2009. There are different grades of this tea and the one served by JAL is the lowest Deluxe version. Although it is the lowest grade, by no means it is cheap. A 750ml bottle of this is selling at JPY3,990 on Rakuten. Above this is the Grand version (JPY6,825), followed by Imperial (JPY12,600), and Premium (JPY21,000).

JAL JL005 First Class Trip Report: JAL uses wine glasses from RIEDEL in its First Class
JAL uses wine glasses from RIEDEL in its First Class.

JAL JL005 First Class Trip Report: JAL customized First Class wine glass
These are customized wine glasses with JAL branding.

JAL serves this tea in a wine glass. Unlike the champagne glasses, the wine glasses are actually branded. Other than the "JAPAN AIRLINES" mark, you can also see the RIEDEL logo on these glasses.

If you like tea, I would highly recommend giving this a try. It is hands down the best iced tea I have ever had (OK I only had those cheap ones from restaurants and Ito En :P). I probably have finished more than a bottle myself as the CAs kept on refilling my glass :)

JAL JL005 First Class Trip Report: JAL CAFE LINES insert
JAL CAFE LINES insert

JAL JL005 First Class Trip Report: Coffee of the Month from JAL CAFE LINES.
Coffee of the Month from JAL CAFE LINES.

Inside the menu, you can also find an insert for the JAL CAFE LINES, its exclusive line of high-quality coffee carefully selected by Mr. Yoshiaki Kawashima, a Japanese world-class Coffee Hunter (although Q Shoe Guy from FlyerTalk would disagree LOL). This is an insert to the menu probably because JAL updates the coffee menu monthly. The Coffee of the Month for my flight was "Grand Cru Café Summer Blend". Other than going into details on the background of this coffee, JAL has also provide a scale to describe its taste.

JAL First Class beverage menu
JAL First Class beverage menu

Last is the "regular" beverages. The First Class menu contains way more choices compared to the Business Class one. For tea alone, there are 9 different choices (10 if you count the Queen of Blue too)! The western teas are made by Mariage Frères Tea of France but I didn't get the chance to try them thanks to the Queen of Blue and the Houji-cha.

JAL JL005 First Class Trip Report: Roasted Japanese Tea "Houji-cha"
Roasted Japanese Tea "Houji-cha"

Houji-cha is a one of the two hot Japanese teas available on the menu. It is a roasted Japanese green tea but looks completely different from the regular green tea or Sen-cha. JAL only serves Houji-cha in its First Class. So you won't get to try this in the rest of the cabins. I really like the toasty taste of this and it's mild too. I probably had this in Japan before but didn't know what it was called LOL but now I know :)

Now that I have covered the drinks, you will finally see how much I ate during this flight next :P

To read other parts of this "Sampling oneworld Premium Services Trip Report", you can find the complete index from the Introduction post. There's also a Trip Report Index page which contains indices to all of my trip reports.


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