Drinking Wine While Flying?

Anabella Murillo

Turns out a lot of people fly either for business or pleasure, sometimes both. I travel more for business than for pleasure, however my goal is to travel for pleasure as much as I travel now for business. When travel I look forward to sit down on my seat. Why? Because sitting down could mean two things: either I fall asleep or I drink wine (and fall asleep later). Which brings me to the subject of my post. I have to warn you about drinking wine while flying.

Even though it sounds exciting it can get “complicated”. When we fly, our body is exposed to changes we may not feel or see. We fly in pressured cabins, temperatures are low for a reason, we are exposed to tons of germs and our body tends to dehydrate faster. It’s not a secret to anyone that when we drink alcohol we dehydrate.

I learned the lesson the bad way. In 2011 I was based in NYC and working for a company that choose 20 employees and flew them to South Africa for a “leadership employee boot camp”. It was more like a crazy detox boot camp, but I will save that story for another occasion.

My flight was from JFK to Johannesburg, meaning I was taking a 15 hour flight… straight… nonstop. I must confess I felt anxious as I had never spend so much time in a flight before. The first thing I thought: what will I do during 15 hours? I can sleep, watch movies, eat and then what?

During all my precautionary measures taken before my trip, calling my dad (he’s a doctor) was on the list since I needed some advice on vaccines in order to travel. His advice?  “Do not drink wine, drink tons of water, move your feet every two hours and make sure you drink enough water so you’re obliged to stand up and walk to the restroom”. I was not happy with his advice but somehow I planned to apply it.

I had an aisle seat (just in case I followed my dad’s advice and I wouldn’t bother my neighbor every hour to go to the restroom). Turns out my neighbor was a South African old man. It was a noon-night-morning flight so we got lunch, dinner and breakfast. This poor man was not prepared to be seated next to a Venezuelan girl asking wine questions like crazy in her imperfect English. Guess what? That’s exactly what I did.

To my surprise, he was happy to guide me. We shared stories and of course tried my first South African wine. He actually gave me wine lessons. I remember trying a wine I had never tasted before. It was a Pinotage. How many of you have tried this wine? I was a first timer. He explained it was a grape from his country, created after the combination of Pinot noir y Cinsaut (known as Hermitage at that time, hence, the name). There I was, receiving a free lesson on Pinotage on my way to South Africa. How lucky was I to share a seat next to a ZA old man who happens to know about wine? Jackpot!

We spoke for hours, I even took notes. He told me what to do in Cape Town, where to eat, tips on my safari and of course, Stellenbosch, a famous wine region in ZA that I had plans to visit. Hours passed, 1 Pinotage bottle later, pages with notes on what to do in ZA and no water whatsoever. I started thinking on my dad’s advice. Was it too late now?

Finally landed at Johannesburg around 8:00 am local time, met with two Venezuelan friends and we all took the same flight to Cape Town. I was so ready to taste all kinds of ZA wines. We went to the hotel, checked in and went upstairs. We needed a shower. Then we headed out to explore the magic city. I was taking my shoes off when I noticed something that freaked me out. I had no ankles. Literally, no ankles, gone. My toes and legs were so swollen I didn’t recognized them. I got scared and looked for bruises in my legs. I showed my –no-ankle feet to my friends and they were surprised as well. I started thinking why my feet were so swollen…and then I remembered my dad’s advice.

I had no water, just wine. Never made the exercises he mentioned. The only thing I did was walk a couple of times to the restroom. I got nervous, there I was with swollen feet at a city I didn’t know and had no idea of where the nearest hospital was. I took a shower with cold water and kept my feet high for hours. We went out and I walked a couple of hours. 24 hours later I was lucky enough to have my feet back.

I learned the lesson, the hard way, believe me. My flight back to JFK was different. I bought pressure socks, drank plenty of water and slept the entire flight back. I was exhausted from my three weeks adventures in South Africa. Landed in NYC with perfect feet and ready to have some wine with friends and tell them all the stories of my South African adventure.

Now, I can’t go without leaving you some tips while flying…and drinking:

For every glass of wine, drink one glass of water. This applies whether you are flying or not. Believe me, it will change your life.

  1. Move your ankles every 30 minutes if you are on short flights, or every hour for long flights.
  2. When safe to do so, stand up, walk down the aisle and back to your seat.
  3. Go to the restroom.
  4. You are drinking at 35,000 feet of altitude, hence, the effects of alcohol may be stronger or you may notice it sooner. Also you may feel dizzy or with a headache, remember flying means less oxygen gets to the brain.


Better be safe than sorry!




How Do You Martini?

In my [very own & very personal] opinion, when you’ve had a hard week at work there is no better way to end it than with a Martini. There are flavors and different decorations, but I lean towards the traditional. With one olive or two if the week was terribly harsh.

Right now there is a discussion about the correct way to prepare the martini. Specifically whether to mix or stir.

Mixed or stirred? For me, it’s a matter of personal preference. Some Martini drinkers prefer to stir it, objecting that when the drink that is mixed it becomes cloudy, and claiming that mixing it hurts the gin and creates a more acidic taste. Other connoisseurs claim that mixing releases the taste of gin, and they point out that the turbidity induced by the shaking quickly disappears.

There is an article published by the British Medical Journal (BMJ) which states that shaken Martinis contain more antioxidants than the stirred ones, therefore, are healthier.

James Bond prefers his Martinis shaken, not stirred. So I lean for that option.

Where I have decided to risk is in the garnishing. Olive and onion are both undoubtedly classic variations of the traditional Martini.

However I have risked enough inventing with stuffed olives – peppers, blue cheese, jalapeno, onions, almonds, citrus, capers and even anchovy. By simply incorporating a stuffed olive you really can change the taste of the traditional martini, surprising the guests a lot.

If you prefer to stick to the tradition, add a touch of extra authenticity, adding a pinch of lemon. For a dirty Martini add a few drops of olive juice and extra olives to decorate. Try adding a piece of brine from the jar, or you can buy specially-prepared “Martini Juice for Dirty Martinis”.

If you still think you can go even further, smoke your Martini by following the same recipe for a dirty Martini but adding a dash of Single Malt Scotch. You’ll see how your Martini will now have a smoky flavor 😉

No matter how you prefer your Martini (mind or stirred, with olives, onions, or scotch), what you should never stop doing is to cool the glass cups in the freezer before making it.

The next time you have guests, dare to prepare this delicate appetizer!

A Wine Affair

I still remember the day this all started. I was turning 15 years old and there I was, sitting at my dad’s dinner table around 8pm. Food was served. I remember thinking to myself, “wow this plate looks good!”

Of course, like everyone else in the family, my love for food already existed. It was no secret to anyone that my cousins and I always waited for that special “Tuesday”, when my Grandma TATA hosted lunch for her friends, played cards and cooked for hours to serve the most spectacular first, second, and third course meal with delicious sweets for dessert.

Anyway, back to my dad’s dinner table, I still remember this dinner was different for me. My dad, his wife, and I were sitting ready to start eating and all of a sudden he opens a bottle of wine and pours a glass for me. I’m pretty sure he saw my face and said “go ahead, you can have some”. I must confess, I was extremely surprised. Not only I felt big (I was turning 15 remember?), but I also felt special. I felt more special when I tried the wine. And here’s where it gets more complicated.

My first love affair was white. Yes, white wine. I’m pretty sure, a high percentage of people reading this, will frown and say “oh no, I am not a white wine drinker, I’d prefer red” and the truth is, maybe, me too; but in that instant that was the only wine I had ever tasted and boy it tasted good.

I kept thinking to myself, why white and not red wine. Not that I had a rich wine knowledge at 15, but most of the glasses you see around in parties while adults are having fun looked red. So, I had this doubt and asked my dad about it. His answer was pretty simple and straight forward “it just goes with this type of food”. I wondered, what this type of food was and of course, it was fish.

What I remember is that I loved everything about it: the sweetness, the acidity, and the mix of flavors with salmon, capers and the dark bread. I loved the texture, even the temperature. I honestly loved everything about it. After that dinner, I felt different; I felt something had changed in me. I fell in love that night turning 15 with a white wine that I can’t even recall from where it was (but most likely to from Spain if coming from my dad’s stack).

Little did I know that my 15th birthday was going to bring me a love and a passion, and that I was ready to embrace it with my arms wide open, hence, I fell in love with every single flavor of this affair.

20 years have passed since that dinner and honestly it has been an adventure for me just by trying new wines or even repeating the good old ones. And of course, the inevitable happened…I tried red. And red became a must.

Along all these years, I have learned that wine is like a precious metal. That one that is admired before trying it or wearing it, and then cheered and praised after its tasting, appearance or putting it on. I have also learned that a wine you like is a wine others must not love.

However, one of the best wine lessons this affair has taught me is that wine offers a chance for everyone and that is one of the things I absolutely love from it. It adapts to you, your personality, your taste and your essence. Think about it, there is always a new opportunity for everyone to try, savor it and fall in love with wine. It’s a never ending cycle. As soon as you taste a wine you like, you develop a strange attraction and all of a sudden you have a relationship with a wine you just met seconds ago, and not only that, but you start offering such wine to someone else, inviting friends, family and even strangers to taste this wine you feel you need to share with someone. And that’s the other thing I like about it. You share wine with loved ones. Sometimes you even share with -not- so loved ones, but don’t worry, because most likely you would end up loving them after one bottle… and that is the beauty of it.

I must confess I am happy with my wine affair. The reason is, I get to love and receive something back. I get to open a new wine and with it, a new chance of falling in love, over and over again. At the very end, the beauty of wine, is that wine accepts everyone even though not everyone accepts wine…so pour a glass and try that wine you have been wanting to taste for a long time. Now is the time, today is the day. Do yourself a favor that will bring you love and who knows, maybe even an affair.

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