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