Go Back  FlyerTalk Forums > Travel&Dining > TravelBuzz
Reload this Page >

Wines - why so hard to find wines that taste great at 35,000ft

Wines - why so hard to find wines that taste great at 35,000ft

Reply

Old Jul 1, 03, 8:27 am
  #1  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Location: New York, NY
Programs: BAEC Gold, Hilton Diamond, Marriott Gold, SPG Gold, AMEX Platinum (US)
Posts: 17,960
Wines - why so hard to find wines that taste great at 35,000ft

I read somewhere or someone told me that airlines find it hard to get wines for First or Business class that taste good at cruising altitude.

For some reason wines and champagne taste very different at cruising altitude and so a good wine / champagne on the ground may taste not so good at altitude.

Why don't the airlines wine gurus just try wine tasting on a flight?

Does anyone know any why wines / champagne taste different at altitude?

Have you ever had a good wine on a flight and then bought some to try at home and found it to be rancid?

------------------
'There are only two emotions in a plane: boredom and terror'
Orson Welles (19151985)
Fraser is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Jul 1, 03, 9:25 am
  #2  
 
Join Date: Feb 2000
Location: (SMV) St. Moritz, Switzerland
Programs: LH SEN, AA AAirpass, IC Ambassador Platinum, *wood Gold
Posts: 1,343
I would argue that they do not taste different. Otherwise, everyone at high altitude ski resorts could save a great deal of money.

I think it more likely that the change in pressure (altitude) impact the ability of people living at low altitudes to taste subtle differences to some degree.

In every blind wine tasting, some cheap, low quality wine will do well in the test for some reason. If taste were greatly affected, why is the effert still put into food selection?
eMailman is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Jul 1, 03, 10:04 am
  #3  
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: St. Helena, CA
Programs: UA 1K/MM, AA EXP/MM
Posts: 242
<font face="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif" size="2">Originally posted by fbgdavidson:
I read somewhere or someone told me that airlines find it hard to get wines for First or Business class that taste good at cruising altitude. </font>
Are you sure it wasn't someone responsible for buying the generally mediocre wines they serve on aircraft?

I've never tried buying on the ground any of the wines I get on flights. They're generally drinkable under the circumstances but I shoot for something better when it's available (which on the ground it almost always is).

Napa is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Jul 1, 03, 11:19 am
  #4  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Aug 2002
Location: London
Programs: Mucci. Nothing else matters.
Posts: 34,294
Actually, I think that final wine tasting sessions do take place aloft, because the reduced cabin air pressure alters the sense of smell, which is the most important part of the "taste" of a wine - or indeed of the taste of food.
Globaliser is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Jul 1, 03, 11:41 am
  #5  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: somewhere north of London, UK
Programs: HH Gold, BA Silver, Accor Silver
Posts: 15,243
<font face="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif" size="2">Originally posted by Globaliser:
Actually, I think that final wine tasting sessions do take place aloft, because the reduced cabin air pressure alters the sense of smell, which is the most important part of the "taste" of a wine - or indeed of the taste of food.</font>
Yes - i've read about the champagne houses chartering learjets to fly the BA wine buyers around at 35,000ft to select the fizz. I think BA buy in fairly big contracts (say 1 year at a time) so the outlay is well worth the 20m or whatever contact they get as a result...

Edited to add...

http://www.winespectator.com/Wine/Ar...75,412,00.html


[This message has been edited by Swiss Tony (edited 07-01-2003).]
Swiss Tony is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Jul 1, 03, 4:25 pm
  #6  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Dec 2000
Location: south of WAS DC
Posts: 10,123
I flew IAD-KOA-IAD in F. UA did not serve a single wine with a shelf price of over #10.(thats less than $10) The stuff would not taste great at 6 feet under.

In C IAD-CDG-IAD, C IAD-MUC, BRU-IAD, and in J on VS, IAD-LHR-IAD, other than the champagne, nothing was a $20 shelf price bottle. The bubblie was never over a $35 bottle.

I think the average C&F traveler does not recognize $20 mystery wine, and the airlines have adjusted accordingly.


If someone will buy a ticket for me and the wife, get the airline agreement, and arrange the interested parties, I will bring the wines.

Probably the best person to pull this off is RUDI, as he is in the business.

[This message has been edited by slawecki (edited 07-01-2003).]
slawecki is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Jul 2, 03, 12:54 am
  #7  
Original Member
 
Join Date: May 1998
Location: Portland OR Double Emerald (QF and AA), DL PM/MM, Starwood Plat
Posts: 19,131
Altitude isn't the only factor. Vibration is a big problem for some wines (they become metallic tasting); this is highly individual by the wine. Great wines require 3 to 6 months rest after being transported to recover; almost everyone would be able to taste the difference.
There are many wines that can cope with the harsh environment on air planes. Some even taste better than on the ground. Delta used to have an excellent F wine list; now it is plonk (it also costs them 10% of what they used to spend). A good example of an airline where every wine is excellent is Cathay Pacific in F. But I checked the prices on their current list, and every single wine served by CX in F sells for over USD 100 per bottle with the most expensive selling for almost USD 200! At the end of the flight they have to pour the partial bottles out; I was the only F passenger on my last flight, drank 4 different wines (champagne, 1 white, 2 red) and that was over USD 500 in wine down the drain. This is why UA doesn't spend more than USD 10 per bottle on their wines. Despite the lavish wine spending, CX had record profits last year (or perhaps because of the lavish wine spending). That was before SARS decimated their business.
number_6 is offline  
Reply With Quote

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are Off


Thread Tools
Search this Thread
 
  • Ask a Question
    Get answers from community experts
Question Title:
Description:
Your question will be posted in: