Wine tasting can be fun – the amazing art of trying to make meaning out of the fruity flavours that comes with every sip of wine.
However, while we ‘listen’ to the what our tongues tell us about a particular wine, Gordon Shepherd, a professor of neuroscience at Yale revealed that it is our brains, not the mouth, that actually do the tasting.
According toThe Times, Shepherd believes the best approach to tasting will be to focus on the fact that flavour perception is created in the brain.
Sherperd makes the claim in his new book, Neuroenology: How The Brain Creates The Taste of Wine, where he says that our the response of our taste senses to food and wine combine to create what we think of as flavour even when such foods do not possess it.
Talking to National Public Radio in the US, the scientist said that “the molecules in wine don’t have taste or flavour, but when they stimulate our brains, the brain creates flavour the same way it creates colour.”
Colour is created when the brain responds to the effects of light produced when it hits a surface, which are inherently colourless.
Sherperd likens this process to the wine tasting, and adds that it is “heavily dependent on our own memories and emotions and also those of our companions”, as well as additional factors like the composition of our saliva, our age and gender.
Shepherd told The Times that swallowing a wine is vital for “obtaining the most information possible about the quality of a wine,” but, “after a few sips people are just downing the stuff. If you take too large a sip, you’ve saturated your system.”
The scientist, who has now pioneered a new branch of science known as “neurogastronomy, also observed that wine engages our brain more than other beverages, especially when it comes to listening to music and solving mathematical equations.
Already, chefs like Heston Blumenthal and Ferran Adrià have put Shepherd’s research through practical experiments at their restaurants.