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Why Drinks Taste Different Up In The Air

Turns out there’s a reason why things taste different at 30,000 feet

If you’ve ever wondered why your favourite drinks taste a bit different when you’re on an airplane, turns out the vibrations of the plane, the pressure in the cabin and even the noise around you can alter the way alcohol tastes.

This shouldn’t be news to anyone who has flown next to a screaming child. For obvious reasons, alcohol tastes way sweeter than usual, particularly if it helps you pass out until you land.

Michael Hill Smith from the Institute of Masters of Wine, says that wines which are more aromatic, such as Riesling and Sauvignon Blanc, are the ones that taste best up in the air. Speaking to The Daily Mail, Michael says “wines that have good lively fruit are good in the air, including Australian wines, which are noted for having really lovely intense fruit flavours.”

The perfect way to enjoy a long-haul flight.

Roy Moorfield, who has probably had the best job ever as Cathay Pacific’s wine sommelier over the last thirty years, can confirm that the taste of wine does change on a plane. Speaking to News Corp, he said that his job involved tasting wine before boarding a plane and then while on the plane, and the difference was clear.

“We realised the cabin atmosphere is about 40% more dry in a good airline – it can be much more dry in other airlines – and we realised that affects the way you taste,” he explained. “It dries out the follicles in your nose, that goes to your olfactory gland, and that’s where you get the sense of smell – and what you smell affects what you taste.”

Do you smell that?

Over in Germany, Lufthansa has been aware of this problem for a while. Back in 2013 the airline commissioned research into why it was serving so much tomato juice on its flights. After putting test subjects in a flight simulator, they found that people enjoyed the beverage more on planes very much because people’s senses were dulled, and so they did not get the mulchy taste as much.

So, next time you’re on a flight, make the most of it by enjoying a glass of Riesling and wash it all down with some dulled tomato juice.