Silverjet has been promoting their in-flight wine expertise as part of projecting an overall luxurious inflight experience. The PR folks are sharing the following thoughts on wine.
First, that the taste of wine onboard is influenced by
the atmospheric pressure, low humidity and vibration of the cabin, all affecting how efficiently our taste buds work.
This concluded that while
[t]here has been very little scientific research into this area… we have found is that wines tend to ‘thin out’ in the air, with both tannins and acidity being accentuated. As a result, tart, angular wines make a bad choice, whereas ripe, fruit-driven wines tend to show much better.
In practice this means that
Passengers often demand quite classic wine styles on the ground, such as white Burgundies; red Bordeaux; lean, mineral Chablis; and structured Clarets. They ere received favorably during this tasting as well. However, in the air, the wine tyles showed very badly: the minerality in the Chablis being replaced by a much thinner, more acidic perception; the tannins in the Bordeaux completely dominated the fruit in the air, making it far too angular a wine to enjoy without food. Conversely the star wine of the tasting in the air was a ripe, tropical cented Sauvignon Blanc, which on the ground had almost been discounted due to an almost unlikable strong perception of sweetness.
The fruit-driven requirement means that New World wines are generally better suited to in-flight drinking.
I’ve given some thought to what wines work best in the air. Certainly some of the better bottles don’t perform so well in the air, and at the same time the answer can’t be to simply serve swill. Still, I haven’t developed an overall theory of what wines work.
I’m interested in hearing feedback here from folks about what bottles have tasted especially well, which airlines offer good wines turned bad at 35,000 feet, and whether there’s a good approach to picking a wine that will stand up to the stresses of air travel.