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The influence of the multisensory environment on the wine drinking experience

These results demonstrate that the environment can exert a significant influence on the perception of wine, at least in a random sample of social drinkers. For example, the wine was perceived as fresher and less intense under green lighting and sour music, as compared to any of the other three environments

A spate of recent studies have demonstrated that simply by changing the music playing in the background one can effectively change how people rate the taste of a drink or food, and/or how much they enjoy the overall experience. Extending this line of research, we wanted to know whether playing short musical selections during the wine tasting would have any additional influence on participants judgements over-and-above that elicited by changing the lighting.

In the first experiment a total of 1,580 participants (871 women, 643 men and 66 who failed to specify) aged 18 to 90 years agreed to take part in The Colour Lab after the procedure had been explained to them.

Following a mixed design, a repeated measures analysis of variance (RM-ANOVA) with environment as a within-participants factor (four levels: white lighting, red lighting, green lighting with sour music, and red lighting with sweet music) and gender as a between-participants factord, was conducted on each of the three different attributes. Whenever sphericity was violated, Greenhouse-Geisser corrected values are presented. All pairwise comparisons reported in the text have been Bonferroni-corrected.

The results of experiment 1 clearly demonstrate that the sensory attributes of the environment in which people taste a wine can indeed exert a significant influence over their ratings (and hence also presumably on their perception) of red wine. While tastes undoubtedly differ, the general finding to emerge from this first study is that the majority of the random sample of participants (primarily social drinkers) preferred the red wine (a Rioja) under red lighting while listening to sweet music than in any of the other three environmental conditions. That said, the addition of the sweet music only had an effect on liking ratings.

Perhaps the key result to emerge from the analysis of the data from Experiment 1 is that of the more than 1,500 people who tried the red wine under the four atmospheric conditions, the general preference for the wine was when tasted under red ambient lighting while listening to the putatively sweet music. It is, however, important to bear in mind here that the participants in Experiment 1 experienced the four atmospheres in the same order (white lighting, red lighting, green lighting with sour music, and finally, red lighting with sweet music). Hence, the possibility cannot be ruled out that there might be some sort of order effects lurking in the data.

A total of 1,309 participants (719 women, 570 men and 20 who failed to specify) aged 18 to 84 years took part in the second experiment. The design of Experiment 2 was identical to that of Experiment 1 with the sole exception that the four environments in which the participants rated the wine were as follows: white lighting, green lighting, red lighting with sweet music, and, finally, green lighting with sour music.

Overall, the results of Experiment 2 replicate the findings of Experiment 1 in showing that, on average, the participants liked the wine significantly more under red lighting when paired with sweet music than in any of the other three environmental conditions.

The results demonstrate that the red wine (a Campo Viejo Reserva 2008) was perceived as significantly fresher and less intense under green lighting, as compared to either red or white lighting. In both of the experiments reported here, the red lighting tended to bring out the fruitiness (as compared to the freshness) of the red wine. Perhaps most importantly, the participants liked the wine most under the red lighting while listening to the sweet music in both experiments. Taken together, these results demonstrate that the environment in which a wine is tasted can indeed exert a significant influence on the perception of wine (at least as indicated by the ratings of a random sample of social drinkers)e.

To give an idea of the magnitude of the change in ratings that were attributable to the change of environment, the results reported here reveal a maximum increase of 0.6 points in a 7-point liking scale (or a 9% change) when immersed in red lighting, with a sweet sounding music playing. People found the wine noticeably fresher and less intense when tasted under green lighting witha sour music playing in the background. The increase in freshness equated to a 1-point (or 14%) change, and the decrease in intensity 0.6 points (a 9% drop), respectively, on the 7-point rating scales.

A large sample study on the influence of the multisensory environment on the wine drinking experience is reported. The results presented demonstrate that the environment can exert a significant influence on the perception (ratings) of wine, and provide relevant information for both researchers and practitioners that are interested in multisensory experience design. In particular, the wine was perceived as fresher and less intense under green lighting and sour music and liked more under red lighting while listening to sweet music. Further research will undoubtedly be needed in order to clarify the possible mechanisms for the effects reported.

 

 

by Graziano Alderighi
14 october 2014, Technical Area > Grapevine & Wine

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