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Wine Vision: Wine must engage all the senses, say professors

Published:  18 November, 2014

Winemakers beware - it's "not enough just to get the liquid right" - the emotional connection, background music and lighting also dramatically affect the taste, say top professors.

Prof Charles SpenceProfessor Charles Spence, of Oxford UniversitySpence told delegates at last night's opening Wine Vision event, that

Speaking at the opening of the global Wine Vision conference last night at London's Shard Tower, Professors Barry Smith and Charles Spence highlighted the influence of all the senses in our perception of a wine.

Smith, professor at University of London, said wine companies must now be aware of "synaesthetic marketing".

The pair said smell and colour, as well as sound, create an expectation about a wine's taste before it is even tasted. They conduct experiments with groups, shutting off individual senses, or enhancing them, to see what effect it has on taste perception.

Spence, of Oxford University, said: "We live in different taste worlds," pointing out that the "brain ventriloquises what we smell into what we taste".

He added that wine experts are "easier to fool than a social drinker" by adding food dye to wines, for instance, as they put so much value on what they see and setting up the expectation of taste.

Sounds also have an impact, Spence said, adding that "synaesthetic marketing is not intuitive, but requires an understanding of the drinker's mind to enhance the experience."

Taking the drinker "beyond liking" a wine, to forming an emotional connection, will mean they become more fascinated with a wine and go on to have more experiences.

"Digital seasoning" is now being used by some restaurateurs, according to Smith. At London's House of Wolf, the restaurant plays different types of music to "deliver 10% more sweetness or bitterness" to enhance a meal.

"Context is very important," said Smith, "don't underestimate it". He gave the example of the 'Provencal rosé paradox - when people have a "wonderful hedonic experience" with a wine on holidays and bring it home, only to be disappointed.

Click Wine Vision for more information and the full agenda of the conference.

The Harpers team will be reporting live from the event today and tomorrow, so visit the website regularly for live blogs and full daily news coverage.  You can also follow us on Twitter at @HarpersWine.