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Virgin Atlantic selling off its wine …. and Boeing 787 Dreamliners

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A couple of weeks ago we had British Airways selling off its First Class crockery …. now it is joined by Virgin Atlantic, which is selling its surplus wine.

Virgin Atlantic Oliver Mandevilla wine

Reading between the vines

The auction house doesn’t say that this wine is from Virgin Atlantic. The official sale is listed as “Selection of Red & White Wine on Behalf of Major Airline”.

However, a reverse image search of the photograph used shows it is from Incessant Wining, from a review of the wines from a Virgin Atlantic flight.

(Virgin Atlantic has told us that this is not a sale that they initiated or will benefit from financially and that it appears to be coming from somewhere in their supply chain.)

For obvious reasons, Virgin Atlantic is serving far fewer bottles of wine these days. This means it has tons (literally) of 187ml single serve bottles in stock.

Unlike the British Airways crockery clearance, this stock sale is aimed at the commercial market, although nothing is stopping you from making a bid.

The bottles are being sold by the pallet – that’s 1,920 servings of 187ml bottles, or 359 litres in total.

If you’re wondering what 1,920 single serve bottles look like, look no further:

Oliver Mandevilla wine Virgin Atlantic pallet

There are 20 pallets available, split evenly between Oliver Mandevilla Sauvignon Blanc and Oliver Mandevilla Cabernet Sauvignon.

The starting bid for each pallet is £400, although this is before VAT and a 20% buyer’s premium. Assuming no higher bids, the net price would be around £580 per pallet or 30p per min bottle, which is the equivalent of £1.21 for a 750ml bottle!

It is worth noting that virtually no bids have been placed in the past week since bidding opened.

Remember that, under UK law, any bid you place is legally binding and you can be sued if you do not complete the contract if you win.

Wine & wisdom

The ‘Oliver Mandevilla’ brand appears to be served in Premium on Virgin Atlantic, so you won’t be getting an Upper Class tipple. On the other hand, it is probably better than what is served in Economy.

Here is what ‘Maliphant Dee’ from Incessant Wining thinks:

Oliver Mandevilla, Cabernet Sauvignon

8/10 – Nothing wrong with that

The Cabernet Sauvignon had a subtle floral nose to start with, little of the promised black currant or red fruit. This was no doubt due to the temperature as the bottle was delivered cold from the galley. Still, it was very smooth over the tongue and I knew it would improve as it warmed to room, or indeed cabin, temperature. Then there were baskets of red berries and yet it still retained that nice floral finish.

Oliver Mandevilla, Sauvignon Blanc

7/10 – Drinkable

The Sauvignon Blanc had a slight gooseberry nose but it was mostly citrus on the tongue. It was a glossy, slightly peach yellow in the glass which promised a more fruity taste than I found. It had a tart finish but it was not sour or stringent. This is a wine that paired well with my seafood lunch but it was lacking confidence on its own.

The Dreamliners have proved more lucrative

The sale of its surplus stock is unlikely to have any impact on Virgin Atlantic’s bottom line. A few thousand pounds won’t move the needle.

What WILL move the needle, in addition to the previously announced £1.2 billion refinancing deal, is the sale and leaseback of two of Virgin’s Boeing 787 Dreamliners.

According to Sky News, this should net Virgin up to £70 million in hard cash in the coming months, further securing the airline’s future. Sky News states that the money will be used to repay part of the – presumably expensive – £170 million loan provided by Davidson Kempner Capital Management, a US hedge fund, during the refinancing.

A sale and leaseback involves the airline selling its wholly owned aircraft to a leasing company. It creates a short-term boost to liquidity at the expense of long-term leasing costs and will depress Virgin’s profitability going forward.

Virgin Atlantic isn’t alone in initiating a sale and leaseback of its aircraft. Virtually every airline has been doing the same in order to shore up cash, with easyJet amongst the most eager.


Tempted? Bidding on the wine ends on the 18th December and you can do so here. At the time of writing, virtually all the lots are unbid with a minimum reserve of £400.

Unfortunately there is a 3% fee for paying by credit card so you won’t be able to rack up any points unless you have a Curve card. You’ll also need to pick up your pallet from Reading “after the UK movement ban is lifted.”

Rob and I did consider bidding for the next HfP party …. although we’re not sure where we would store 1,920 miniature bottles.

How to earn Virgin Points from UK credit cards

How to earn Virgin Points from UK credit cards (February 2023)

As a reminder, there are various ways of earning Virgin Points from UK credit cards.  Many cards also have generous sign-up bonuses.

You can choose from two official Virgin Atlantic credit cards (apply here, the Reward+ card has a bonus of 15,000 Virgin Points):

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Virgin Atlantic Reward Mastercard

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You can also earn Virgin Points from various American Express cards – and these have sign-up bonuses too.

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold is FREE for a year and comes with 20,000 Membership Rewards points, which convert into 20,000 Virgin Points.

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

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Small business owners should consider the two American Express Business cards. Points convert at 1:1 into Virgin Points.

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Click here to read our detailed summary of all UK credit cards which earn Virgin Points

(Want to earn more Virgin Points?  Click here to see our recent articles on Virgin Atlantic and Flying Club and click here for our home page with the latest news on earning and spending other airline and hotel points.)

Comments (38)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • Chrisasaurus says:

    I’ll look after them for you Rhys 😀 *hic*

  • Antipest says:

    Would this be a ‘bonded’ wine as it would have been served outside of UK customs jurisdiction? If so there is the equivalent of £2.68 duty per bottle to pay.

    That wine then becomes £3.89 a 750ml if sold to a UK buyer, still cheap but not a the original bargain it seems.

    • David P says:

      It almost certainly is under bond, and don’t forget that duty is applied before VAT so the cost per bottle will be even more than £3.89.

      It’s also worth noting that there’s a reserve which is higher than £600 so even if the highest bid for a pallet is only £400, you won’t get the wine.

      • Rob says:

        Does not seen to be in bond. They would have to have made this very clear if it was.

        Small print says that bids below reserve will be considered and potentially accepted.

        • David P says:

          The vendor is primarily B2B so it may be taken as read that it’s supplied under bond. But it is odd that duty is not mentioned as an extra cost so perhaps someone has gone to the trouble of paying it? It makes no sense why Virgin would have done this if the purpose of the sale is to shift excess stock.

      • Antipest says:

        £2.68 is the duty + VAT price

      • Rich says:

        I don’t think it will be – the auctioneer doesn’t suggest that they are binded so if its with them then they will be duty will have had to be paid already.

  • The Streets says:

    Small typo: do not complete the contract if you win

  • Bob says:

    This wine is also served in economy as well as premium.

  • Justin says:

    Not so much of a bargain when you have to arrange uplift and then store it somewhere. That could easily double your £500 bid (plus 20% and VAT)

    3% Credit Card fee doesn’t seem right, unless you are paying with a corporate credit card all transactions should be free… We may have left the EU but we haven’t gotten rid of their laws.

    • Rob says:

      This is B2B purchase. Very few rules apply.

    • The real John says:

      The no CC fee is a British regulation

      • Robbo says:

        IIRC… it was originally, but the EU also included this in Payment Services Directive 2, which was heavily influenced by the British lobbying to reflect our government’s wishes (many EU countries including large ones like DE and IT are nowhere near as card-friendly as the UK and had nothing against a fee for card usage).

        The days of our government setting regulations for the world’s largest single market have drawn to a close.

    • Tom says:

      £500 to pick up and deliver a pallet? Let me know if you have any pallets needing picking up 😉

  • NickS says:

    More importantly these mini bottles are not made for cellaring, they are made for quick drinking so I am sure they will not improve with ageing (which no doubt is why I’m sure they are flogging them off). The trick with mini bottles is to fill them with youthful quaffable wine and drink them ASAP. So as tempting as any of the prices might be you need to know you can drink them in reasonably short order which my be difficult with the current ban on gatherings!!

    • Phil says:

      @NickS your comment brought back a memory for me. A few years ago I worked for a well known retailer with a financial services business. The retailer supplied pallets of wine to hand out as instant thank yous to colleagues. As a typical financial services business, nobody remembered to thank anyone… So a couple of years later we were left with copious quantities of red wine which we were advised were probably not in the best of condition. It was decided to sell the stock to staff for a charitable donation of £1 a bottle. On first opening it, the stuff was only good for cooking… however I accidently left a bottle unopened for 4-5 hours and then sampled it, it was decent… well worth a drink. I proceeded to buy two more boxes. A full pallet might have been stretching it though!

  • Nick A says:

    It’s a no from me!

  • TGLoyalty says:

    What’s this uk movement ban?

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