When it comes to vintages and varieties, our cup runneth over. There’s more than enough wine stocked in the cellars of the Old and New Worlds for you to enjoy a glass every day of your life and never sip exactly the same type twice. But those with perceptive palates also know that it’s possible to drink from the same bottle and have it taste differently with each glass. As world-renowned sommelier Véronique Rivest explains, everything from your food to your mood can flavour your judgment of a wine’s character. And drinking in flight is no exception.
“The airplane is a drastically different environment from your kitchen table,” says Rivest, who selects the reds, whites and rosés for Air Canada’s Signature and Business Classes. High altitudes translate to lower air pressure, decreased humidity and an increase in background noise – all of which influences our senses, including smell, which accounts for up to 80 percent of what we perceive as taste.
In 2008, researchers at Germany’s Fraunhofer Institute for Building Physics compared six wines under normal conditions to the same in a simulated airplane cabin. In the “in-flight” test environment, perceptions of fruitiness in light wines diminished while other notes soured, tasting musty and tart.