The largest airline in the world just hired Colorado-based master sommelier Bobby Stuckey to run its wine program. American Airlines announced this week that Stuckey, who owns Frasca Food and Wine in Boulder, will be consulting for the company, selecting wines for its in-flight and Admirals Club lists. Stuckey owns a wine label, Scarpetta, in addition to his restaurants Frasca and Pizzeria Locale. He was nominated for a James Beard Award for his work in wine, and, in 2013, the same foundation honored Frasca for its Outstanding Wine Program.
“The biggest mistake that a sommelier could make in this role is to change everything,” Stuckey said following the announcement. He’ll tackle the job first with a trip to Napa to learn the airline’s existing logistics and procurement processes. Then he’ll consider American’s hubs, connections, and destinations to decide which wines flyers might be thinking about en-route. In California, they could be interested in a Santa Barbara pinot noir, for example. They’ll probably want a super Tuscan, though, on the way from New York to Rome. By late this year, Stuckey’s specific selections should start showing up on American flights and in lounges.
In recent years, other major airlines, too, have moved toward more thoughtful wine programs; Delta tapped master sommelier Andrea Robinson while United hired on Doug Frost. And Stuckey hopes to see even more collaboration between the master sommelier and the airline moving forward, from destination-based magazine articles to educational in-flight videos. “I think the wine industry is more in front of people than it used to be,” he said. “It doesn’t matter if it’s airlines or Formula One, people want to have great wine in their life.”
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