For most of us, a wine’s context—its color, its label, its story—affects us as much as its flavor.
In advance of a blind wine tasting class I’m taking later this week, I found this story of particular interest. Especially this:
In one of the most prominent studies of how expectations can influence taste, Gil Morrot, a wine researcher at the National Institute for Agronomic Research in Montpellier, and his colleagues found that the simple act of adding an odorless red dye to a glass of white wine could fool a panel of tasters (fifty-four students in the University of Bordeaux’s Oenology program) into describing the wine as exhibiting the qualities associated with red wine. The tasters thought they were tasting three wines, but they were actually tasting only two. There was a white Bordeaux, a red blend of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, and the same white Bordeaux colored with a red dye. When Morrot looked at the tasters’ responses, he found that they used similar descriptions in their notes on the red and colored-red wines (chicory, coal, cherry, prune, cedar, and the like), and markedly different ones when describing the white (floral, honey, peach, grapefruit, pear, banana, apple).