We’ve all brought home a bottle of wine from our holidays which, when we drank it on a warm evening, in a bar overlooking the sea as the sun was setting, was absolutely delicious, but then when you drink it while sitting on your sofa, watching TV, it tastes just, well,ordinary. I can remember drinking the most delectable glass of Riesling on the sunny terrace of a New Zealand winery, looking out across the Nelson hills. So delicious that I very carefully brought a bottle home and remember the anticipation of opening that bottle, only to be so disappointed, it really wasn’t the same.
It seems there is a scientific explanation for this loss of flavour according to researchers at Oxford University. They believe that the light and sound you experience when drinking the wine affects its taste. Most of us drink our wine in the kitchen or in our living rooms, which are often subjected to artificial light from lamps and electrical appliances not the warm glow of an evening sunset. And the colours we are surrounded with tend to be muted, even bland, not the vibrant colours of the Mediterranean. This theory is going to be tested at the Streets of Spain festival on London’s South Bank. Professor Charles Spence from Oxford University will be inviting people into his ‘Colour Lab’ to rate how wine tastes depending on light and music. He believes that the results could change how bottles are labelled. So as well as recommending what food to eat the wine with, we would also be advised to ‘drink after dark’ or ‘while listening to classical music’.
And it’s not just drink that this theory applies to. Salisbury Hospital has discovered that patients ate more food when it was served on blue plates (worth remembering if you are dieting!), and it also seems that we are attracted to red food because it implies ripeness, sweetness and calories.
Professor Spence thinks that his experiment could have big implications for bars and restaurants, making them rethink the colour of tableware, glasses and even the colour of walls and the pictures on them.
So does this mean that in future, instead of looking for a good bottle of Rioja to enjoy with the Sunday joint, we’ll be looking for a wine suitable for drinking in a room with green walls, subtle lighting and Coldplay in the background?
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