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Wine's newest pairing.

See, swirl, smell, sip, and swallow or spit: these are basics of wine tasting. Since the first step in tasting is judging the wine's appearance, most wine drinkers know that its color can affect its taste. Yet, many may not be aware that a bright-white lamp overhead could be to blame for bitterness in their Chardonnay.

According to "Ambient Lighting Modifies the Flavor of Wine," a recent study published in the Journal of Sensory Studies, the color of the ambient light can impact the flavor of wine. The study documents three experiments conducted by German psychology professors, including lead researcher Dr. Daniel Oberfeld. In each, participants were asked to evaluate the flavor of one or more Riesling wines in environments illuminated by red-, blue-, green-and white-colored fluorescent lamps.


For the first experiment, the researchers asked 150 visitors at the Allendorf winery in Oestrich-Winkel, Germany, to sample a dry Riesling and judge its sweetness, sourness, spiciness, fruitiness, bitterness, flavor intensity and flavor pleasantness. They were also asked to evaluate how much they liked the wine--on a 10-point scale--and how much they would be willing to pay for a 0.75-liter bottle. Participants drank the wine from black opaque glasses that obstructed its color from view. Each taster assessed the wine while one color of ambient light was projected in a windowless tasting room designed for the experiment. After analyzing the results, the researchers found that tasters liked the wine best when drinking it under the blue and red lights.

The second and third experiments were conducted in laboratories and included mostly students from the Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz, Germany. Again, black glasses were used to conceal the wine's color. In the second experiment, 135 tasters were asked the same questions, but two wines were tested--a dry and a semi-dry Riesling. Unaware that they were being served two different wines, participants sampled the two wines under the four different colors of ambient light. This time, they reported that the wine was spiciest under blue and green light, and the most bitter under blue light.

For the third experiment, 230 tasters were asked to try two glasses of wine, identify their preference on a four-point scale, and determine which was fruitier, spicier and sweeter. While only one dry Riesling was used, participants drank one glass under one color light, and the other under a different colored light. Blue, white and red light was used. In this test, participants judged wine to be the fruitiest under the red light.

In general, the study determined that tasters liked wine best under blue and red lighting, and that they were more likely to spend more money on wine in these ambient conditions.

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Title Annotation:UPDATES
Author:Hall, Elizabeth
Publication:LD+A Magazine
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Apr 1, 2010
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