Lifestyle / 12 November, 2014

By: Deby Beard

This summer, Britain’s Prospect magazine published an article by journalist Barry Smith, Director of the Institute of Philosophy at the School of Advanced Study, part of the University of London, in which he speaks of an experiment he did with an airline to choose which wines had the best performance during flights, and Malbec was one of the ones which was chosen. Let me tell you a little bit more….

Barry Smith, accompanied by another journalist from Women’s Health, flew to Istanbul with British Airways to test the flavours of food and wine at high altitudes, and discovered that our appreciation of wine changes at 30,000 feet. As a result, wine buyers for the airlines are improving their skills at selecting wines that work well on flights.

How do they do it, and what are the fundamental principles of success and failure?


When flying at high altitude, the dry atmosphere—which greatly reduces our ability to perceive aroma—low cabin pressure, cold temperatures and vibrations mean that even the best wines may not perform as expected. In addition, recent research has demonstrated that white noise in the ears suppresses the tongue’s ability to detect basic tastes like sweet and salty. At around 80 decibels—the level of noise on board a commercial aircraft in flight—the effect on sweet and salty is quite marked. This may be one reason why passengers complain about aeroplane meals, despite the efforts some airlines have put into improving the food. The solution is to wear noise-cancelling headphones, which will do a lot to revive your plate and your wine.

But, even with the headphones, wines are greatly affected by the pressure of the cabin, as Smith discovered drinking the same wines in the lounge and in the air. Under low pressure the molecules are more diffuse, meaning they have less impact on the olfactory receptors in the nose. Fruitier wines tend to have better results, and the more austere and noble wines that passengers expect to find on the first class wine list may not show well at all. Firm tannins in the best wines tend to dominate under the pressure of the cabin, leaving them dry and very bitter.

Andy Sparrow of Bibendum wine merchants is responsible for buying wine for British Airways’first class list. To find out which bottles worked and which didn’t, he led a long-haul tasting for wine writers. Sauvignon Blanc, with its primary aromas and fresh acidity, was favoured among the whites and you will always find it on the list of options. Many of the more sought-after wines simply failed to deliver, but to everyone’s surprise, a Malbec that people did not comment on when tasted on the ground suddenly came into its own when tasted at 30,000 feet.

What should we look out for when flying?

Champagne gives good results, and so does Cava, which may be due to the presence of carbon dioxide in their bubbles, which is a stimulant of the Trigeminal nerve that serves the nose, eyes and mouth and makes the nose tingle when eating a lot of mustard, for example. Trigeminal stimulation is not only immune to the effects of cabin pressure – which is why passengers frequently enjoy spicier foods on flights – it also enhances our perception of aromas. So drinking champagne with food can help both have a better taste.

Red wines, on the other hand can be a problem, since acidity increases with altitude and astringency reinforces acidity, so it is advisable to avoid wines with high levels of tannins. But Malbec passed the “long-haul” test and got a good reception by those who tried it in small bottles in Economy class.

What is the explanation for this?

Many of the most acclaimed Argentine Malbecs are produced at very high altitudes, and the cabins of planes flying at a height of 30,000 feet are pressurised at an altitude of 6000 feet, and, for example, the grapes of the Argentine producer, Nicholas Catena Zapata, grow at a height of 5,700 feet. Could it be that wines produced at high altitudes perform better in those conditions? More tests have to be carried out, but the next time the drink cart comes round, it is advisable to ask for high altitude wines. If they go down well, that could be the reason…

Deby Beard
Deby Beard se ha convertido en los últimos 10 años en icono y modelo en el mundo del vino y del buen vivir, con más de 150 catas de vinos al año, organizadas, convocadas y dirigidas por ella y cientos de artículos, colaboraciones y textos en distintos medios. Deby Beard nació en la ciudad de Mexico, hija de Padre Francés y Madre Rusa, ha dedicado gran parte de su vida al manejo de las relaciones públicas, comenzando a temprana edad en el ámbito hotelero, para después crear su propia empresa dedicada a promover empresas, productos y personas. Deby ha introducido las Copas Riedel a México, logrando promover así la cultura vinícola y tener venta de miles de copas anuales. Ella fue la responsable en conjunto con Georg Riedel, el magnate austriaco, en crear la copa Riedel de Tequila, avalada por el Consejo Regulador y en crear la copa de mezcal Zignum, misma que será clave para promover la cultura de esta bebida. Deby cuenta con su programa de radio en la estación 88.1 con Sergio Sarmiento quien cuenta con el rating mas alto del país, ella es escuchada por 2,000,000 de personas 2 veces por semana. Ella ha sido invitada a todos los eventos gastronómicos, turísticos y vinícolas del mundo, además de invitaciones personales por las embajadas a: Australia, Chile, Nueva Zelanda, Argentina, España ( en muchas ocasiones) y por empresas a : Miami, Los Angeles, Costa Rica, Perú, Inglaterra, Italia, Francia y muchos mas. Su primer programa personal de televisión fue en Canal 40 y duro 2 años, después su programa en televisión abierta en canal 13 con enorme audiencia. Deby Beard, publico su libro “ De Etiqueta” teniendo en su lanzamiento en Monterrey la asistencia más concurrida del festival del libro: 2000 personas y 150 libros vendidos esa misma noche, en el lanzamiento en Mexico asistieron 400 personas de la alta sociedad Mexicana, los primeros 6,000 ejemplares se agotaron a los meses de la publicación y se editaron 3,000 mas que están a la venta en las librerías, su segundo libro será lanzado al mercado el próximo año. El Blog de Deby Beard, es leído por 15,000 personas semanalmente en Mexico, España, Chile y Argentina, entre otros más. Deby Beard, ha creado su propio vino en alianza con personalidades mundiales, El Barón Erick de Rothschild Propietario de Cháteau Lafite y banquero francés prominente, con el Conde Francesco Marone Cinzano de la Toscana, con el multipremiado empresario Gerard Bertrand y con la Familia Arizu, propietaria de las bodegas y viñedos Luigi Bosca en Argentina. Ella colabora en los 2 periódicos más importantes del país, de forma regular hace varios años: La Crónica, y El Universal, teniendo mucha fuerza como periodista y líder de opinión. In the last 10 years, Deby Beard became the icon and row model of the wine business as well as one of the most renowned Life & Style journalists. She covers more than 150 wine tastings a year that she personally organizes, call-in and host as she collaborates with several of the main newspapers and magazines Born to a Russian mother and French father in the cosmopolitan city of Mexico. Starting at a young age in the hotel industry, she has dedicated most of her life to public relationships. Presently, she owns a successful P.R. Agency that focuses on branding high end products, corporate and people. Deby beard writes in 3 of the most important newspapers in Mexico: • El Financiero • El Universal • La Cronica She also writes in 10 magazines: • Asesoria Turistica • Stylmed • Sabor e arte • Mi Vino • Top life • Soy chef • Pulso Pyme • El conocedor • Barrio • Cancunissimo • Deby collaborates in varios web pages as: • Fahrenheit, TravelMall, Jet News, Vinisfera El Blog de Deby Beard has 17,000 followers every week in Mexico, Spain, Chile and Argentina. Deby shares a radio show on 88.1 F.M. with Sergio Sarmiento with the country´s highest rating: 2,000,000 people twice a week. Currently hosting her second T.V. Show she´s on the air on Mexico travel Channel shown in Rusia, Spain, Usa and America Latina. Deby has her own magazine called “Jet Set” with her partner Fernando Botero, distributed in all the vip rooms, top hotels and private airplanes.

Previous Post

Wine Contests: which ones are worthwhile?

Next Post

...The rise of Argentine Cabernet Sauvignon

0 Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *