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What is the best wine to enjoy on a private jet

When uncorking your favourite wine at 35,000 feet, it can taste totally different in the air and after landing. Join us to explore why this happens and which wines should be your new favourite in-flight tipple.

How air travel affects taste

Business woman drinking white wine of a private jet
Business woman drinking white wine of a private jet

Wine doesn’t have quite the same zing in the air as it does on the ground. In fact, according to British Airways (BA), there are 13 conditions that affect one’s taste in-flight – humidity being the most important. The low humidity in commercial and private airliners can have a drying effect on our mouths and nasal passages, which interferes with the normal functioning of our taste buds. This, combined with high altitude, another contributing factor to in-flight taste, can make your favourite wines taste different in the air.

Andy Sparrow, head of travel sales at Bibendum, one of Europe’s biggest wine suppliers and a buyer for BA, states: “Back in the Seventies, winemakers would tell you that bad vintages were sent to the colonies, or to airlines.” But a lot has changed since then. In the ’90s, airlines around the world turned their attention to attracting rising passenger numbers with luxury wines and private airliners naturally followed suit.

Wine has increasingly become a priority for flyers, but a good wine on ground level isn't necessarily a good wine at altitude. Along with low humidity and high altitude, low air pressure and reduced cabin oxygen, time change, high stress levels and smell, which accounts for 80% of taste, are contributing factors to onboard taste – factors airliners must now consider for their passengers’ enjoyment.

Which wines taste best and worst on a private jet?

Red wine vineyard
Red wine vineyard

It’s widely accepted that flying dulls our taste buds. The factors listed above have the same effect on our senses as a cold, which encourages many airliners to offer a selection of fruity wines that are low on acid, tannin and flavour. Some winemakers have suggested that red wines are best for air travel, because red grapes are grown at higher altitudes and are therefore better suited to being sipped above the clouds. If this is true, wine produced in the Andes and the Argentinian wine region of Catena should be at the top of your in-flight wine list. But as the order of the day on board private jets is often white wine or Champagne, this is unlikely to be the full story.

Instead, it seems balance is the key to enjoying wine on a private jet. A pleasant balance of acid, alcohol, water, tannin and sugar makes for the freshest and most enjoyable blend. Wines with strong fruity undertones work extremely well with their a compound of dark red fruit, a ripe tannin foundation and low acidity. White wines like Riesling or Sauvignon Blanc and red wines like Rioja and Pinot Noir, for example, are all great options.

Champagne is an alternative to wine that tastes as good in the air as it does on the ground. Arguably the only real difference is that low cabin pressure results in fewer bubbles. Wines to avoid in the air include Muscate, which tastes zesty and raw when served in private jet conditions, and traditional Barolo, whose leathery and sharp tannin-driven flavours are often too aggressive for many.

With Air Charter Service, you can enjoy a bottle of red, white or Champagne when travelling in bespoke luxury. If you consider yourself a wine connoisseur, why not nurture your passion for fine wine and expand your knowledge at English Wine Week 2018? To arrange for your favourite bottle of wine to be chilled and on board at your arrival, or for more information on how to charter a private jet, contact us online to create your own tailor-made trip.



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