Food and wine taste different in the sky. Mostly due to dry air. Photo: Vincent Skoglund
Food and wine taste different in the sky. Mostly due to dry air. Photo: Vincent Skoglund


Why the food tastes different up in the air

You may have noticed that the fine, pleasantly dry wine you enjoy at home can taste coarse and bitter above the clouds. Blame the dry air.

Beer on board

New on board in Business class is Mikkeller’s Red Lager, a lightly sweet beer with a malty -backbone and a hoppy finish. Or try Sky-High Wit, a Belgian Wit with a Danish twist. Both are brewed exclusively for SAS.

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Wine doesn’t taste the same, and food has much less taste as well. This phenomenon largely relates to the dry air of the cabin. The further you travel, the more dehydrated you become. Our taste buds become somewhat sedated by the dry air and the pressure in the cabin, so what you eat and drink either doesn’t taste as much or tastes different.
 “Enjoying wine served onboard should be a refreshing experience, not heavy or demanding. We focus primarily on young, fresh wines, with minimal or no barrel ageing. This is to avoid the bitterness and dryness that is heightened in the air,” says Gustaf Öholm, Onboard Concepts & Service at SAS.

For several years, renowned British wine expert Oz Clarke has helped SAS to find clean, fruity, and fresh wines.

“We look for wines with low tannins and that are very fruity, smooth, with a punchy flavor. We often choose wines from the New World, such as Chile and Australia. This year we’re extremely pleased with the quality of wine we’ve found on the US west coast, in the south of France, and in Spain close to the french border. Wines with the character we’re looking for.”

He mentions Shiraz and Pinot Noir as examples of rewarding grapes for red wines, while highlighting Sauvignon Blanc, Marsanne, and Viognier as good white wine grapes. Grapes that give that crisp, fresh taste. Even Chardonnay if it hasn’t been barrel-aged.

“We want to avoid excessive barrel ageing,” Gustaf Öholm says. “That can easily amplify the flavor, which can then be perceived as simply intrusive and unpleasant. It can also excessively accentuate acidity and alcohol. And wines that are too subtle and unobtrusive can just become anonymous and bland during a flight. The balance of the wine is everything.”

Öholm and his colleague Peter Lawrance, Mealplanning & Execution, say that the same is true with regard to food.
Food also has a lot to do with balance, and is not something that you choose lightly. While the food has to be distinctly Scandinavian, seasonal, and have the right nutritional composition, it also has to have a distinctive, rich, and balanced flavor. These flavors have to reach those slightly sedated taste buds.

So, enjoy the food and drink, knowing that every detail has been taken into consideration to get the taste just right. And don’t forget to drink plenty of water.

Text:  Gunilla Hultgren Karell


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