Flights: Expert reveals how your taste in wine changes when flying – does it taste better?

Flights offer a perfect opportunity for rest and relaxation after an often fast-paced airport experience. Cabin crew are on hand to offer a full service, dishing up inflight meals and even drinks. Many passengers enjoy unwinding with a glass of wine in hand. However, a Master sommelier who works with American Airlines has revealed how wine can taste different when your 30,000 ft up.

According to Bobby Stuckey, who was recently appointed by American Airlines to help them configure their perfect inflight menu, the chance in altitude can affect the way wine tastes to passengers.

Wine tends to taste slightly less strong when flying, which make the task of pairing the wine with the appropriate meals slightly different to usual.

He explains: “You just need bolder flavours than if you were on the ground to enjoy the best taste from the food and wine onboard.

“Really, I feel you need bolder flavours whether it be salt in the food or bolder flavours in the wine when flying to produce the best taste experience.”

Along with a slightly changed taste, the effects of alcohol in the also change with the transition in altitude.

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He said: “It’s always key to stay hydrated when consuming alcohol both on the ground and in the air. Drinking plenty of water in flight is key to feeling refreshed when you step off the aircraft.”

The Master Sommelier also revealed just how much hard work goes into ensuring passengers can chow down on the perfect inflight meal.

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It turns out, the team at American Airlines have worked alongside Bobby for a year to find the right wine to compliment every dish, meanwhile carefully designing each plate on the menu.

It isn’t just about the brands included in the menu, but also how well each beverage works alongside the food offering.

Bobby explains: “There are certain wines that have a larger window of capability to be paired with more food. For example, if you have access to Champagne, go for it. Champagne pairs well with more menu options than a Chardonnay would. Most often, you have a choice of a couple different white and reds. Keep in mind that the lighter wines have a larger window of drinkability with foods. If you are ordering beef – go with a full-bodied red.”

Though, experts have also revealed that food can change in flavour just as much as wine when on an aeroplane.

Author Christopher Barlett explained why in his book Plane Clever.

He wrote: “Meals have to be prepared beforehand and reheated.

“Because of the dry air in the cabin, meals have to have a lot of liquid, often as sauce.

“In addition, the noise apparently means food just does not taste as nice on the ground – think how nice the simplest foods can taste at a restaurant in the quiet countryside.”

He also offered some tips for passengers who want to wash down dinner with a glass of wine, saying: “Coupled with the dry air in the cabin, alcohol can dehydrate, and that can lead to DVT.

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“Spacing out drinks with water or juice is a good idea.”

Meanwhile, it seems wine can have another use when flying.

British Airways boss Willie Walsh is a former pilot and has revealed that he opts for a glass of red when trying to beat one particular inflight ailment.

The owner of IAG said that drinking a glass of red wine is the key for helping him cope with jet lag.

The ex-pilot told The Sun: “A couple of glasses helps you to sleep. Red wine is the cure for everything!”

The BA boss added that a doctor once told him to drink more red wine every day and that Walsh cheekily responded by asking for a prescription for half a bottle.

However, not everyone agrees with the former pilot’s jet lag and wine advice.

One medical professional has warned travellers against indulging in alcohol when on a long-haul flight.

Dr Clayton T. Cowl, Chair of Mayo Clinic’s Division of Preventive, Occupational and Aerospace Medicine spoke with to explain why booze might not be a flyers best friend.

He said passengers should: avoid dehydration by taking in fluids and avoiding alcohol or excessive caffeine.”


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