Whether you're relaxing on a long-haul flight with a drink in hand or you're getting into holiday mode early on a short trip to Spain, a mid-flight glass of wine often feels like it's well-deserved.
While most of us are aware that alcohol affects us more thousands of feet up in the air, you're also not alone if you notice a difference in taste when sipping wine on a plane. Perhaps it tastes better? Or less sweet? Well, it turns out this actually is a phenomenon.
'At a high altitude the air is much dryer which means that our taste buds are less sensitive,' Joost Heymeijer, the senior vice president of inflight catering at Emirates, told Prima.
'This causes certain taste profiles, such as sweetness, to be dampened by altitude by as much as a third; whilst other parts of your taste palate appear unaffected particularly in the savoury range. The combined effect can subtly change the overall taste profile of a wine.'
We knew it.
It is the job of the likes of Heymeijer to take this into consideration when deciding on what wine to serve to customers on the airline's planes.
'We always look for wines with good acidity that tends to flatten when at altitude which makes for a more balanced wine while flying, such as crisp, citrusy varieties like Riesling and Sauvignon Blanc,' he says. 'We also serve wines with strong characteristics like full-bodied Malbec as they often show better.'
Heymeijer says the company has an 'ever-changing' wine list to suit customers needs, which also needs to complement the food as well as be suitable for cabin pressure.
'With wine selection, it’s important to be bold with flavours as at altitude the subtleties often disappear. Each wine is especially chosen to withstand the rigours of flight to ensure that the quality of wine will match the quality of the meals.'
There's also a chance your wine may taste particularly different if you are flying on an older aircraft, Heymeijer adds.
'On our modern fleet, the conditions are not comparable with older aircraft. Humidity and pressure are greatly advanced and similar to being at altitude in the Swiss Alps.'
These differences in your taste palette can extend to other drinks. There's even some scientific evidence to suggest that Bloody Marys are more popular off the ground as the environmental atmosphere makes tomato juice taste better. Who says you can't enjoy a cocktail at 35,000 feet?
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