Jump to content

"Does Wine Taste Better With Food"


Recommended Posts

An interesting article that looks at some of the scientific research on food and wine pairing.

To make her point, she shows me another paper, which she calls "the rinse study." Panelists were told that the purpose of the study was to discover which grape varietal cleansed the palate most efficiently. They were asked to score butter, sour cream and yogurt after a sip of wine. The wines did change the taste of the food, the subjects reported—but not by much. And the data was nice and neat—Chardonnay had the same impact on yogurt as it did on butter. Then Heymann ran the same protocol with the same foods, the same wines and the same panelists—only this time, she told them that it was a food-and-wine pairing study. Suddenly, she says, "all hell broke loose." The panelists tasted all kinds of things that hadn't been there before, and the differences they had noted before struck them as more intense this time. When Heymann plotted the data it looked like a trigger-happy gunman had sprayed the charts with buckshot. The only difference between the studies was the panelists' belief about the purpose of the experiment. "It's not happening in the mouth," Heymann said. "I think it's happening in here." She pointed to her temple.

Wells also wrote another intriguing piece a couple months ago that's worth reading:

"White Wine: Too Darn Cold? It's a question so obvious that no one thinks to ask it: Why do we chill white wine? Increasingly puzzled by this practice, Pete Wells investigates. "

Link to comment
Share on other sites

An interesting article that looks at some of the scientific research on food and wine pairing.

Wells also wrote another intriguing piece a couple months ago that's worth reading:

"White Wine: Too Darn Cold?  It's a question so obvious that no one thinks to ask it: Why do we chill white wine? Increasingly puzzled by this practice, Pete Wells investigates. "

I really enjoy reading Pete Wells' stuff. I think he richly deserves those two Beard awards he picked up.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

When Heymann plotted the data it looked like a trigger-happy gunman had sprayed the charts with buckshot. The only difference between the studies was the panelists' belief about the purpose of the experiment. "It's not happening in the mouth," Heymann said. "I think it's happening in here." She pointed to her temple.

I guess this is somewhat of a tangent, but you also have to wonder how similar things relate to just tasting food. I wonder how much knowing which chef prepared your food makes a difference in ones perception of how good or great the meal tasted. I would love to conduct that blind taste test with a bunch of folks and plot the results.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I guess this is somewhat of a tangent, but you also have to wonder how similar things relate to just tasting food.  I wonder how much knowing which chef prepared your food makes a difference in ones perception of how good or great the meal tasted.  I would love to conduct that blind taste test with a bunch of folks and plot the results.

I bet that test would show a strikingly string correlation between the diners' perception of how the food should taste and how it does taste. How much different is an artfully plated dish from the same exact ingredients/flavor components inartfully plopped down on a paper plate? Most would choose the former in a "taste test", but to a blindfolded person they are probably the exact same.

These wine studies are lots of fun to read through though (in a past life I was in cognitive science and ran across a number of them studying cross-modal perception). My favorties include:

- Taking wine experts (some sommeliers, mostly amateur enthusiasts) and having them taste wines that had been poured into opaque black goblets so that even when looking down into the wine there were no color cues, aroma and taste only. The subjects' only task was to say "Red" or "White". If I remember accuracy was only at around 60%

- Taking wine from the same bottle and decanting it into either a Gallo-esque jug or a label-less Bordeaux bottle behind the scenes. Testers are poured samples in full view of each container into identical tasting glasses. You can guess which one was judged the superior wine. Even better are the responses by wine geeks who would assign typical flowery praise the the "good" bottle of wine and dismiss the other as plonk. The effect was greatly enhanced if the good bottle retained its suitably prestigious label.

I'll try to dig up the refs. Fun with science!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

In my misspent youth when I participated in 4 or 5 blind wine tastings a week, I belonged to the balck glass society. We tasted 8 wines in the following fashion:

There was a control set of the wines lined up and lettered a thru h. They were poured into a clear glass and put out on a specially constructed light bix. We geeks would collect our clipboards and go and make notes on the color.

You were then assigned a tasting buddy and the two of you went to a table with a divider in the middle and 2 sets of 8 glasses, fully black and opaque, lined up on each side of the divider. You "nosed" the first set while your buddie nosed the other. You were nosing them in different orders. Next you switched sides and tasted the wines, without stopping to sniff again, in a different order. There were roving snif and talk police to assure this was done in absolute silence. Well silence except for the nasty comments about that nights policeman. Finally you were given a set of clear glasses and poured your wines into them. You could then make another judgement on the wines. Lastly the wines were revealed. It took longer for us to figure out the glass matrix than it did to do the tasting.

The results from all of this were shocking- it was impossible to make a decision of what wine you really liked in this fashion! Wines that would be highly rated in the society tasting often were boring and hard to finish on their own.

There is a problem with the scientific approach. When you are asking for which wine clears the pallate better, you might not focus in on what the wine tastes like in the same way as when you are asked to judge food and wine pairings. The control is not really an all things except one thing different control. There are two things different, the hypothesis question being tested and the expectation of the tested. Not good science in my book. The experiment of the bottle shape is far more fun, as it really controls for something. I do believe there is a role for science in wine tasting. But just because you investigate something with the scientific method does not mean you have uncovered TRUTH.

In my experience with wine, each bottle of wine has variations. The better, less manipulated wines have more variation than the commercial stuff that is basically standardized chemically before bottling. You are dealing with individual bottles when you are in the world of hand made wine. Weather the wine is young or old, the variations are amazing. My current wine hero is Gravener. I have sold 11 bottles of his Ribolla Gialla and tasted 9 of them. The variations are amazing! If you take the most extreme bottles of the lot, it would make most tasters think they were tasting a different wine!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...