Do you like wine? You probably answered yes. In an informal poll of sixteen million imaginary people in my brain, 98% of them said they enjoyed having a glass of wine. The other two percent were either human/mushroom hybrids or made out of wine and not interested in oenocentric cannibalism. This is all to say that a ton of people like wine. The better question for us at Fly&Dine is: Do you like drinking wine on an airplane? For most wine-lovers, the answer is “not really.” That’s because the conditions on an airplane don’t exactly make for a great wine drinking experience.
David Yanofsky over at Quartz has a solution for you and it’s the same advice you’d get from The Isley Brothers: Shake it up, baby! Yes, you heard that right. If you’re getting served one of those tiny 187mL bottles, first pour out a tiny bit to get a little air in the bottle, then shake it like a Polaroid picture. Why do this? It’s called aeration and it’s a secret that sommeliers have been using for centuries. On the ground, the process involves pouring wine into a decanter and letting it sit for a bit to allow oxygen to get into the wine while simultaneously making the off-flavors evaporate. This softens the overall flavor of the wine and leads to a more enjoyable glass of wine.
In the air, the cabin pressure and dehydrating elements can make wine taste even more bitter and increases the effects of alcohol, so finding a way to decant your wine in the sky is a great way to make it taste better. Shaking the personal wine bottle works to mimic the effect of swirling your wine in your glass (which you obviously can’t do on a plane with plastic cups). There’s also another method: bring your own aerator. An aerator works as a decanter-on-the-fly, introducing oxygen into your wine as you pour. You can take your little bottle and pour it through this Vinturi aerator (it’s only $24.50 and highly portable) or, if you’re flying on an airline that pours from actual bottles (most likely in the premium cabin, although Alaska Airlines pours from full wine bottles in coach), ask the flight attendant to attach your aerator to the bottle as they pour your glass. Then let your wine sit for a few minutes on your tray table to absorb more oxygen before finally indulging. Your newly aerated glass of wine should be much better than it would have been before.
The Vinturi aerator is one of the most popular aerator products out there, but there are also a bunch of other aerator options on the market:
Just a quick note about aerating white vs. red: some people say that only red wine needs aeration, but this is a topic of hot debate in the wine community. In my opinion, it definitely doesn’t hurt white wines, so you’re safe to aerate whites as well as reds.
Have you ever brought an aerator with you on a plane? If so, I want to hear about it in the comments.