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From the vineyard to the glass

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How atmosphere affects wine drinking

To be honest, tongue is not the only organ forming our gustatory perception. Unlike the rest of our sensory organs, which are extremely sensitive, the set of muscles in our mouths is an imperfect means of perception that can only detect five different taste sensations. Just for comparison, your ear shell contains thousands of different cells, each one set to capture a sound with certain wavelength.

In a new study, Adrian North demonstrates that whenever people drink wine while listening to the music, their perception of wine is affected by the music they are listening to. North tested the gustatory perception of 250 students who consumed Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon or Chardonnay. Some of the participants in the experiment tasted their wine under the sounds of music preliminary identified as powerful and heavy, others drunk their wine listening to music preliminary identified as sophisticated and exquisite (classical), third group drunk their wine under the sounds of “fresh” music, while the remaining participants tasted their wine while listening to slow and gentle music. There was also a control group where participants drunk wine without listening to any music.

After five minutes of wine tasting, the participants were asked to estimate the wine they had drunk.  The results showed that music really affected their perception of wine. The perception depended on the type of music they were listening to. For example, both red and white wines were estimated as “full body and heavy” wines by the participants who consumed them under the sounds of Carmina Burana.

That is why the atmosphere in restaurants is so important. The little rituals performed on the table are not just manipulations. They help us enrich the incomplete information coming from the tongue receptors. For example, if we eat at a luxurious restaurant full of sophisticated chairs and fine china tableware, served by waiters dressed in tuxedos, food is perceived in a different way, when compared to the perception of the same food consumed in a cheap fast food outlet. This is the explanation why people are ready to spent more money in restaurants where classical music is played, rather than in restaurants sounded by pop music. The music does matter. Just like anything else. Tongue can easily be cheated.

VIA VINERA CASTELLUM BULGARIAN HERITAGE CONTOUR