Thursday, January 12, 2012

Wines Brought to You in Smellyvision

It happened to me recently: sitting in the icy gloom of Borough Market outside the Wine Pantry in south east London one night I ordered a glass of Camel Valley Pinot Brut Rosé 2009. It’s a wine I know well but I couldn’t see it and because it didn’t smell quite as redcurrant-and-raspberry as I remembered I actually queried whether I had been given the right fizz.I was quite glad to find backup for this experience in Gordon Shepherd’s fascinating new book, Neurogastronomy: How the Brain Creates Flavour and Why it Matters. “Colour has an influence on the sense of smell”, writes Shepherd. He reports that in an experiment at Brown University, subjects sniffing odourless solutions, some of which were coloured, some not, tended to assert that the coloured ones did have a smell. “Because coloured solutions like fruit juice usually have distinctive smells, seeing them stimulates the expectancy of the smell by itself. Some psychologists regard this as a kind of Pavlovian conditioning,” he explains. more

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