Lighting can influence how wine tastes

Survey of the Institute of Psychology demonstrates that the color of ambient lighting can have an effect on how a wine is assessed

10.12.2009

The background lighting provided in a room has an influence on how we taste wine. This is the result of a survey conducted by researchers at the Institute of Psychology at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz, Germany. Several sub-surveys were conducted in which about 500 participants were asked how they liked a particular wine and how much they would pay for it. It was found that the same wine was rated higher when exposed to red or blue ambient light rather than green or white light. The test persons were even willing to spend in excess of €1 more on a specific bottle of Riesling when it was offered in red instead of green light.

"It is already known that the color of a drink can influence the way we taste it," says Dr. Daniel Oberfeld-Twistel of the General Experimental Psychology division. "We wanted to know whether background lighting, for example in a restaurant, makes a difference as well." The survey showed, among other things, that the test wine was perceived as being nearly 1.5 times sweeter in red light than in white or green light. Its fruitiness was also most highly rated in red light. Accordingly, one conclusion of the study is that the color of ambient lighting can influence how wine tastes, even when there is no direct effect on the color of the drink. "The extreme lighting conditions found in some bars can undoubtedly influence the way a wine tastes," concludes Oberfeld-Twistel. He also recommends that serious wine tasting should be conducted in a neutral light color environment. Perhaps a partial explanation of why lighting influences the way we taste wine is that in what we perceive to be pleasant lighting conditions, we also regard the wine as being more pleasant too. Additional research is planned to provide further insight into this fascinating phenomenon.

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Publication
D. Oberfeld et al., Ambient lighting modifies the flavor of wine, Journal of Sensory Studies, 24:6, 797-832, 26 June 2009,
doi:10.1111/j.1745-459X.2009.00239.x
Contact Contact
Dr. Daniel Oberfeld-Twistel
Institute of Psychology
General Experimental Psychology
Johannes Gutenberg University
D 55099 Mainz
Tel +49 6131 39-39274
Fax +49 6131 39-39268

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