Category Archives: Humidity

Drinking wine on an aeroplane – a disappointing experience

Wines are usually disappointing if you drink them on a plane. The circumstances are unusual, with conditions affecting both the wine and the drinker.

wines to drink on an aircraft

wines to drink on an aircraft

What is unusual about aeroplanes:-

  • Aircraft are pressurised at the equivalent of around 8,000 ft altitude, which is about three-quarters of that at sea-level.
  • Air-conditioning reduces the humidity to around 10%, much lower than most people are used to.
  • There is a lot of vibration.

Affect on the wine:-

  • Low pressure reduces solubility of gases such as oxygen and carbon dioxide, and this reduces the wine’s freshness.
  • Red and white wines are usually served too warm, which has a significant influence on the taste and smell.
  • Wine is rarely served in a decent glass, and this has a negative influence.
  • Wines can be severely shaken up, which doesn’t help.

Affect on you:-

  • The low humidity has a direct influence on your nasal passages, and hence your sense of smell and taste.
  • You also salivate less in conditions of low humidity. Saliva moderates astringent tannins in wine, so a wine appears more astringent than normal in an aircraft.
  • Flying is stressful and tiring, and all this affects your senses.

Conclusion

The conditions tend to suppress the fruit and sweetness of a wine, and enhance any harsh acidity and tannin. So, wines need to be carefully selected to compensate for this.

Wine storage – what you need to know

Wine rack

A classic wine rack

Wine is alive, and there are two things which will kill or maim it in no time at all, they are direct sunlight, and temperatures above 25°C (77°F). Even if you are going to drink a wine soon after buying it, beware shops and restaurants where these conditions apply.

Light, aromatic wines are most susceptible, and heavy reds the least.

Sunlight has two harmful properties – ultraviolet light (UV) light, and radiation which heats what it shines on. UV light encourages the breakdown of many chemicals, and the oxidation of others. All this is bad news for the wine. Coloured glass provides some protection.

Temperature. High temperatures cause some chemicals to breakdown, and others to react rapidly. New and unpleasant compounds are also produced.

Avoid rapid changes in temperature as this can cause the cork to move within the bottle, and allow air in. This influx of air causes the wine to go off more quickly.

Ideal storage conditions are:-

  • Temperature:- 12°C to 13°C (54°F to 56°F).
  • Humidity:- 60 to 70%. If the cork dries out it will let air into the wine.
  • Horizontal:- the cork should be in contact with the wine, to prevent it from drying out.
  • Keep it in the dark. No sources of UV light or heat.