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Expectations affect the perception of wine

Expectations affect the perception of wine

Wine looks good or bad, white or red depending on how the taster sees it or expects it. There is no objective judgment if not blindfolded

DI Donatella Cinelli Colombini

Do you remember in school when good students got high marks even in the case of mediocre performances? We have all seen cases of this kind.
And it does not depend on the

professor having a favourite student but on the expectations that condition those who express the judgment.



In wine it is the same: the good ones are always good and the mediocre ones are always mediocre. Regardless of the objective quality of the bottle.

It is not a criticism of the critics but a fact that Vincenzo Russo, professor of
neuromarketing at IULM in Milan and Italian expert on brain processes related to perception explains us with crystalline clarity. Objective perception only exists in a tasting without images, sounds, smells, … and even tactile sensations that interfere.

In fact, 50% of brain cells serve visual informations. Seeing the label of a wine that pleases affects the other senses but even less is  necessary to obtain an alteration of the gustatory perception like being in an environment illuminated by red or green light, listen to music dominated by serious or acute sounds… to alter the taste.


Not only that, Miguel Gomez and Anna Mansfield of Cornell University in New York, in the courses “The science of selling wine” (2013) put the emphasis on the correlation between the pleasantness of the places and the landscape with the sale of wine. The perception of bottles improves and with it the chances of doing business.
The statement made at the beginning of each sommelier course that organoleptic tasting is an objective statement is dead. In reality the taster is in good faith because the rational part of his brain is objective but the unconscious part is not. And he cannot understand it.


To prove it in 2001 Gil Morrot, Bruno Brochet and Denis Dubourdieu respectively two enologists and a neurologist, carried out an experiment in gastrophysics that made history “The color of the smell”. Gastrophysics is the science that studies processes such as that for which the taste of wine can be influenced by expectations and conditioning.
The three scholars made 54 experts taste a white wine in two glasses colouring one of red adding anthocyanin. The two equal samples provoked different taste sensations because the sight of colour conditioned expectations to the point of preventing the recognition of the aroma and the real taste. It was a revolutionary and courageous experiment given the prestige of the oenologists involved and the possibility to question their own abilities, in fact newspapers around the world turned the scientific news into  mockery “ the students of oenology of the University of Bordeaux mistake the white wine for red wine>>. In reality, this experimentation marks a milestone. It was replicated in 2003 in New Zealand with identical results, even in that case exp

erts described the coloured white wine as a red wine while in the blind tasting they described it correctly.

In other words, sight is the dominant sense, as Professor Russo well explained, 50% of the cells of the human brain are at his service and only 1% are dedicated to taste. For this reason the olfactory and gustatory perception is heavily conditioned by the primary visual cortex, to the point of altering the recognition of perceptions.
All this explains why in a visually beautiful and refined context the wine looks better, a famous and prestigious label makes the same effect on consumers and perhaps even critics. 

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