Pairing Wine & Flying
Due to altitude and cabin pressure while flying, your sense of smell and taste are greatly reduced. Your sensitivity to sweet and salty flavors is decreased by almost 30%, but sour, bitter and spicy tastes are almost the same. For wine drinkers, this creates a huge impact on your palette and enjoyment of expensive wines.
While this certainly doesn’t mean you should skip having a favorite bottle on board your private flight, you may consider swapping out lighter or sweeter jam or berry notes for crisp apple or spicier notes – the bolder, the better. Delicate wines like Pinot Gris or Pinot Noir could taste bland at altitude. A crisp, citrusy Sauvignon Blanc like Cloudy Bay will still maintain its lime and grapefruit notes well.
For reds, we recommend a warmer climate Syrah from Australia, Napa or Paso Robles. Look for 14%+ alcohol levels for fuller-bodied flavors. One of our favorites is a Stolo Family Vineyards 2014 Estate Syrah. If you prefer spicy notes, a Cabernet Franc will do well. While a Chateau Cheval Blanc is an incredible wine, you may want to opt for a Sheridan Cabernet Franc in flight.
Don’t forget the bubbles!
Effervescent wines are a wonderful choice when flying. The bubbles will enhance the aromatics and you can never go wrong with a great bottle of champagne. Try a Bollinger La Grand Annee Brut Champagne. Be aware that inflight, bubbles will stick to the side of your glass instead of a steady stream of finer bubbles, this will affect the aroma but doesn’t indicate a lesser quality champagne like it would on the ground.
Don’t forget the difference the right wine glass can make. Many private jets have limited space and only store a limited amount of glassware. Request specific glasses from your flight coordinator prior to your flight. Better yet, bring your own to get that extra oomph of flavor and aroma.