Wine for planes, trains and spacecrafts
April 30th, 2013
11:30 AM ET
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Ray Isle (@islewine on Twitter) is Food & Wine's executive wine editor. We trust his every cork pop and decant – and the man can sniff out a bargain to boot. Take it away, Ray.

What do you do if your Amtrak train stalls for hours en route to Washington, D.C.? Most people probably raise a fist to the skies and curse the god of wayward train mechanisms or what have you, but not Paul Goldschmidt. The winemaker for Bordeaux’s Château Siaura recently found himself in this situation, en route to a tasting he was now certain to miss. So what he did speaks well of mankind, or at least of Bordeaux winemakers: He opened all the bottles and did the tasting for his fellow passengers instead. Who apparently were quite pleased with this outcome - I mean, if you can’t have an on-time arrival, at least you can have good wine.

It got me thinking: if Bordeaux is the ideal wine for train travel (which I am simply going to assume from the above incident), what about air travel? Definitely not the hideous plonk that most airlines seem inclined to sell you. Instead, what would be best would be a tasty wine that’s also low in alcohol - planes dehydrate you, as does booze. No need to exacerbate the problem. And what about cruises? You’re stuck on that boat for quite a while - you need a fun wine you won’t get sick of: a buy-it-by-the-case and stuff-it-in-the-hold wine. Here are a few suggestions.

Clearly, given the events of the other day, the answer to train travel is Bordeaux. People tend to assume that all Bordeaux is expensive; this isn’t the case at all. There are plenty of good values to be found. Châteaus to look for in the terrific 2009 and 2010 vintages include Reynon, Puygueraud, D’Aiguilhe, Charmail, Cap de Merle, Sainte-Colombe and Cambon la Pelouse.

As mentioned above, planes tend to dehydrate you, and so does drinking. Stick to lighter, less alcoholic wines. Realistically, you can’t bring your own wine on a plane, but light, low-alcohol wines are awfully nice for springtime picnics as well. Look into Vinho Verde, the crisp, lightly frizzante white wine of northern Portugal. Producers to seek out include Aveleda (both the Casal Garcia and the slightly pricier Quinta da Aveleda), Broadbent, Gazela, Auratus and Portal do Fidalgo. (Always buy the most recent vintage when it comes to Vinho Verde.)

Boats, to me, seem an ideal justification for opening something bubbly, leaning back in a deck chair, and passing the idle day away. You could go with Champagne, but you could also go with Prosecco and save yourself a whole lot of money. Top producers include Adami, Nino Franco (both the Rustico and the pricier Primo Franco bottlings), Zardetto and Bisol.

Space Travel
News that Richard Branson will, in theory by the end of the year, be offering flights into outer space on his Virgin Galactic...well, it’s hard to know what to call them. Planes? Rockets? Cool space-going jet-propelled vehicle things? Whatever: The guy is selling rides into space. Best wine to accompany? Something lightweight, of course. So skip the glass and go Tetra Pak, with wines such as the one-liter Bandit Cabernet Sauvignon and Riesling, or the organically produced Yellow+Blue Monastrell or Torrontés.

Come on - no wine is good for drinking in cars.

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soundoff (3 Responses)
  1. Legolam

    The advice for wine on a plane misses the target. Yes, you should watch the alcohol content. However, the low cabin pressure interferes with taste, since a large part of tasting is actually smelling. The smells are weakened by the low air density. You need a big red or an oaky white.

    May 1, 2013 at 3:38 pm |
  2. Nophah Kingweigh

    Budweiser in a can is my preference for car travel. Never drive with bottles.

    May 1, 2013 at 1:57 pm |
  3. afireworkinprogress

    This is great! I do love anything sparkling on a boat!! It just feels like you should be drinking champagne on the open water :)

    May 1, 2013 at 8:01 am |
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