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What does wine taste like at 30,000 feet? Do I really care, is a better question!

Wine on Planes

I’m like the rest of you, or at least the majority of you, I fly coach. Never been bumped to business, 1st class or otherwise. I guess it’s probably because I never flew much. Not that I’m afraid, I just prefer to spend time on the ground seeing things, rather than flying over them. If I had the choice I’ll take a train or bus, which today with all the delay’s at airports, tends to be about the same length trip as it would be flying to my next destination.

Last month I had to fly to London. While finding something to do during that crucial take off period when my mp3 player becomes a weapon of mass destruction and must be turned off, all 1.2volts of it, I did what anyone in my position does and opened the in-flight reading material. You know the creased, sweat stained magazine that comes in the front pocket, somewhere between the vomit bag and the how to escape if your plane should become a boat pamphlet.

Flipping through the pages at a pace I figured would bring me to the end of of the magazine by the time the first airline attendant rose to do something, not sure what since there was no in flight service, I noticed about half way through something that caught my eye. Iberia airlines in association with Todovino, a large wine club based in Spain, had teamed up to find wines to serve on all Iberia flights. Now if your like me, this means nothing to you. For us the choices when the mystery food and beverage cart rolls down the aisle include, pseudo beer(Mahou), pseudo Cava, white wine, red wine(sometimes the best choice), assorted caffeine choices(pop, coffee(yeah right, brown water is more like it), tea), and water. So this “selection” of fine wines that Todovino and Iberia teamed up to provide for us, most likely were for a different group of “us’s“.

But that’s not my point, what I found funny was this. They touted that they had held in flight wine tastings to see which wines performed the best at 30,000 feet where they assumed your taste buds health and over all compressed state would cause the wines to taste different. Each wine was selected due to it’s ability to hold up to the rigorous conditions presented in a high altitude wine sniffing situation. They then went on to say that they also served these same wines at there VIP lounges, located at normal altitudes in airport lobbies around the world.

Now here’s the question. I might want a wine that performs well at 30,000 feet while flying the “friendly” sky’s, but wouldn’t I want a different wine that performed well at normal altitudes when I was sipping in the VIP lounge? In my head I imagined that I would turn to the sommelier provided at the airport VIP suite and politely, yet firmly, state “Sir I would love to have a glass of wine, but could you make sure it’s rated for low altitude consumption.”

If you are going to be a snob, you might was well be consistent. Next time your buying wine, make sure to ask, for what altitude the wine is recommended. You can then truly say that all parameters are taken into account.


Ryan Opaz

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