Why Airplane Wine is So Bad

Why Airplane Wine is So Bad

Why Airplane Wine is So Bad

An Experiment

The last few times that we have had to fly on business trips, we have ordered the wine that was available, and put it in our pockets to bring home. This began as an experiment, and has developed into this theory that we have about airplane wine and why it is always so bad. Of course, the answer is that it's not really that bad, it's just the conditions.

Wine is not just a beverage, but really, it is an experience. As such, it is rather dependent on the surrounding circumstances. If you are uncomfortable and eating bad air plane food, the wine is unlikely to taste wonderful to you.

The first wine we tasted on an airplane was a Rutherford Estate Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon. It was horrible. It tasted like tar, and we struggled to find something nice about it, but this proved to be very difficult.

A Theory Emerges

But we realize now that there were several things conspiring against us enjoying the wine. It wasn't the wine itself that was at fault, since we have had Rutherford Estate wines since then, and they were always good. We think that perhaps the real culprits were...

  • Uncomfortable seating- if you are uncomfortable, it is a little difficult to enjoy anything, especially something that requires concentration.
  • Bad food- perhaps airlines have been unfairly charged with serving the worst food in the world, but one must admit it is hardly the best either. In the occasion in question, I was eating cold lasagna that was mostly devoid of flavor. Wine complements food, but some food does not deserve the complemented.
  • Altitude and turbulence- We are not sure how this one works, but it seems that as you increase your altitude, and as the plane jostles around, the wine seems to taste more and more metallic. Flying to Paris, we had a merlot recently that was rather like chewing on aluminum foil. Perhaps this is just the body's natural reaction to flying.
  • Assorted other smells and ventilation- when you are crammed into an aluminum tube with 200 other people (most of whom don't want to be there) you tend to be more aware of the people that are crowding around you. The overhead ventilators are blowing cold, sterile-smelling air on you, and you can smell what your neighbor is eating, and it looks even less appetizing that what you are eating. As you may know, more than half of the wine tasting experience is smell. These are hardly the conditions for smelling a wine.

As we have been bringing these wines home with me, and opening them in the comfort of our office and homes, it has been a pleasant surprise that they have been pretty good. We don't think that wineries are going to put their best stuff in those tiny bottles for commuters to hate, but it's not their worst, either.

So, the next time that you are flying and are offered what looks like a nice wine on the beverage cart, put it in your pocket, and have some water instead.