Why Bloody Marys Taste Better in the Air (and it has to do with noise)

It’s pretty common knowledge that food does not taste that great in the air.  Your ability to taste changes when on an airplane, and food tastes more bland.

But did you know that some cocktails taste better on an airplane?

I have lots of friends who tell me that they only drink bloody mary’s on flight.  In fact, there’s a guest post on only liking bloody marys in the air.

bloody mary

I was partial to the umami theory.  This posits that the reason bloody marys taste better in the air is because there are so many “meaty” flavors in it.  Your ability to taste sweetness and saltiness in the air is diminished, so the umami flavors in the bloody mary pop.

The Daily Mail describes this theory:

Umami, ‘the fifth taste’, is the meaty, savoury flavour of mushrooms, parmesan cheese and anchovies, as well as the additive MSG.

Tomatoes are also rich in umami and their core, which we normally throw away but is pulped when making tomato juice, is particularly high in it.

But a study paints a different picture.  It’s not necessarily the taste profile alone.  It has to do with background noise.

“Surprisingly, when rating intensity of umami taste, panelists rated solutions delivered in the loud condition to in fact be more intense than the same solutions delivered in the near-silent condition, in the two higher concentrations, with escalating effect size with dosage,†the researchers write in their study. “Our results suggest that instead of merely being immune to the effects of loud noise, auditory conditions in air travel may actually serve to enhance this already appetitive and sought-after taste quality.â€

That is, loud noises make these types of flavors taste better.

Maybe that’s why I enjoy eating pub burgers more in noisy bars!  Fascinating.

About Jeanne Marie Hoffman

Former bartender, still a geek. One equal part each cookies, liberty, football, music, travel, libations. Stir vigorously. +Jeanne Marie Hoffman Jeanne on Twitter

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  1. Interesting theory. Makes sense. I definitely experience the bloody mary tasting better in the air thing.

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