There’s actually a really easy way to make the swill on board taste a little bit better. Turns out all you have to do is shake it, according to Quartz.
I appreciate the free wine when I’m suffering for 12 hours on a plane, but sometimes the stuff that’s served might as well come from the back of the bar during last call. Luckily, there's a quick fix for making the cheap stuff slightly more palatable, using wine decanting methods connoisseurs have used for years. But before I descend into serious wine territory, I think I need to establish that I’m not an expert by any means. Though I am an expert at drinking them.
The best reasons to decant wine is to separate a wine from any impurities and sediments in the liquid and to bring out the wine’s natural, vibrant flavors. In this case, you’re really decanting on board the aircraft for the latter reason. Though white wines are rarely decanted—it’s more so in the case of reds—there is no real reason not to decant a white either.
Obviously, traditional decanting, which can take a few days, isn’t really going to work on a flight. Other alternatives involve pouring wine back and forth between two pitchers or putting it in a blender to improve its drinkability. While these are clearly not viable options, I would personally love to see someone bust out their Vitamix blender from the overhead compartment, plug it into their seat power outlet and just go all Martha Stewart on it. (Turns out blenders aren’t allowed as carry-on baggage in the States.)
Shaking wine in a bottle? Shaking I can do. Quartz has a semi-instructional on how to do all of this on board:
First, when you shake the bottle, be sure that you’re not shaking your whole body. Your seat is connected to the person’s next to yours and shared—through the tray table and pocket—with the person behind you. You want to do this without disturbing either of them…
Start by pouring a little bit of wine out of the bottle and into your cup. To reduce the risk of spilling it, drink this wine before you get to shaking—try to ignore how poor it tastes. Now that there is some extra space in your bottle, shake it for 45 seconds to a minute. If this gets tiring, try shaking for 15 seconds at a time.
The main issue is that flight attendants rarely give you the bottle, so shaking wine in its bottle could still be problematic. If it’s your own bottle you’ve brought on board, this is less of a conundrum. Just don’t forget to share the love.
If none of the above options work, you could always try swirling the wine in your glass and letting it sit out for a bit. According to Wine Folly, “The swirling increases the surface area of wine to oxygen and aerates it just as decanting would.” It’s easy to assume the swirling is for show, but now you know the reason behind it.
Maybe I’ll just get a gin and tonic next time.