In Italy wine marked the evolution of our civility since the times of the Etruscans: they were in fact our Umbrian and Tuscan ancestorsto first cultivate and consume wine grapes, some centuriesahead of any other population on earth.
Wine in Italy is a serious matter, our spearhead, and since many years, the Italian Sommelier Foundation, which is supported and legally recognized by the Presidency of the Council of Ministers, is engaged in the offer of an highly quality wine experience in terms of tasting, pairing and knowledge.
I have spent most of the last 15 years in the Foundation, focusing in deep studies regarding the positioning and tasting of wine in a completely different context compared to the traditional one: at 30.000 feet.
Airlines,since many years, discovered the importance of the onboard wine and food “Experience” and we have made incredible discoveries which allowed us to understand how to make the best selections for on board Guests.
I always like to remember that wine is not an inanimate object, rather it has its own soul and its own character. Being something alive, it is subject to changes that can often turn out to be negative if not managed properly, especially when it is served at high altitude: same wine, same vintage, but different perceptions between ground and air.
The conditions generated at high altitudes, makes the food and wine chain, subject to significant alterations to be taken into great consideration, not to dispel all the meticulous work of selecting. The wine served on board, as well as the food, therefore, needs a careful selection to make the art of pairing effective and pleasant.
I personally have participated, in collaboration with International Research teams, in studies that have shown that it’s not the product itself that changes, but our taste budsthat are affected by the change of the natural habitat. On board pressurization, humidity and vibrations are the main factors in changing perceptions. The air pressurein the cabin, at 30,000 feet above the sea level, is the same that is perceived at 3-4.000 meters if you are on a mountain: is very difficult, as an example, to boil water obtaining a perfectly “al dente” pasta dish.
The humiditypresent on board of an airplane, in these conditions, causes the taste buds to work with more difficulty, like when we have a cold. The salinityand herbaceous sensationsare reduced by 20-30% and there is a decrease of the alcohol sensationof about 1/1.5 °. The only factor that remains substantially unchanged is the acidity.
Wine (and food) served on board therefore need an adequate spiciness that doesn’t hide but enhances the original flavour of the food itself and, at the same time, of a structural / alcohol level that compensates the loss in perception.
Moreover, the Italian Sommelier Foundation since many years is morally very close to the worldwide awareness of ecological issues that nowadays are carried out by great persons like little Greta Thunbergthat should make , All of us, think for more than a second…
In this contest, Castello Monte Vibiano, located in Umbria, called the “Green heart of Italy”, represents an absolute pride, that before any other, has already started since many years a production path of its products with a great respect for Mother Nature: after several years of deep transformations, in 2008 became the first Companyin Italy certifiedZero C02 Emissionin the entire production area of its excellences and one of the first in the World.
Nowadays, also following beautiful examples like those of Castello Monte Vibiano, many Cellars are already working with the purpose of preserving natural resources for the future generations.
While studying the “green” market trends with a focus on sustainable viticulture, the Italian Sommelier Foundation discovered also that the quality of these wines, made with the lowest possible negative impact on the environment, is growing fast and due to their natural characteristics, in many cases, can taste and pair even better at 30.000 feet!
After many years, we have now the “entry keys” for the perfect onboard wine selection!!
Carlo Attisano Deputy Chairman of the Italian Sommelier Foundation