What We See Is What We Taste

My reading lately has consisted of research and studies on what influences wine tasters and what I have been reading is absolutely fascinating. I am just at the tip of the iceberg and already I have lots of ideas about how a winery can create a tasting atmosphere that will improve tasters’ appreciation of the wine and make the wine more valuable to the tasters. More about these ideas in future blogs; in today’s blog I want to reference to a couple of the studies.

Much of the interest in these types of studies started at the University of Bordeaux. In 2001, enology students (54 of them) at the university were asked to describe a wine. They used words such as prune, chocolate and tobacco to describe a white wine that had been dyed red with a dye that added no taste of it’s own to the wine. The students had tasted the same wine earlier before it was dyed and the descriptors they used were honey, lemon, lychee and straw.

These were not average consumers, these were enology students, yet what they saw (a red wine) so affected their ideas of what they were going to taste, and they used descriptors that are used to describe a red wine.

My second example is a study conducted at the Johannes Guttenberg University of Mainz in 2009. In that study tasters perceived that wine tasted better in a red or blue-lit room. The researchers also found that drinkers were willing to pay more for the same wine. The same held true for white wine, with the sweetness and fruitiness of the wine being most highly rated in red light rather than green or white light.

So not only do consumers believe that the wine tastes better, they also believe it’s worth more depending on the lighting color. Additional studies have been conducted since 2009 with the same findings. The largest study of this kind will be conducted in London, UK next month, during the Streets of Spain celebration on London’s Southbank.

Next week’s blog will talk about the affect of music on wine tasters.

A tip of the glass from me to you!


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