High Flying Wines – Does Altitude Effect your Palate?

A couple of days ago, M noticed this fun article talking about what makes wine taste better on planes. As we travel a lot, also with plane, we found the reading quite entertaining and relevant. Who knew, that altitude had such a big influence on your taste buds. 

The article comes down to a few facts. One, everything tastes different at altitude. Nothing happens to the wine its self, scientifically, rather your body’s tasting mechanisms are compromised at altitude: cabin pressure in airplanes causes flavor molecules to fly around faster. The expert in question points out that it is often to our advantage, and that wine tastes better, crispier and fresher up in the air. Haha! I wonder if that’s why the wines served on planes are often so crappy.

Another affecting factor is that aircraft cabins are extremely dry. The drier the environment, the drier your olfactory system is, and when your olfactory sense are dried out, you aren’t able to sense complexity. This also points out why perhaps airlines are not so keen on having an expensive offering of wine, but rather easy and simple base wines.

What an interesting boost of information! The article also gives a few tips and trics on choosing wines in altitude. Experts say: crisp, light wines with very strong scents (think floral, fruity) are going to taste better in the air. That means you’re almost always going to be happy with white wines like Riesling or Sauvignon Blanc, and reds like Pinot Noir, Rioja, or Argentinian Malbec. Sparkling wine, they say, is always a good choice, and I cannot but agree. Stay away from wines with a lot of tannins: Chianti, big Italian wines, or a hefty Cabernet.

And last but not least, stay hydrated. Everything is going to taste better if you’re drinking a glass of water for every glass of wine.

What a load of information to think about for the next time I am ordering a glass of wine on a plane. I have seldom been interested in drinking a lot on flights (I just gulp down the welcome champagne). But I like going through the selection. Tasting a bit when flying business class and drinks are included, to see how the airlines have managed with their menu. Now I have some food for thought for when I fly long haul the next time.

Link to the article – The science behind what makes wine taste better on a plane

xx Soile

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The menu by Sasu Laukkonen

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