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New study: Wine tastes in the brain and not in the mouth


Wine tasting is a complicated process in the human brain
Certainly many people like to drink wine from time to time. But how do we actually determine the taste of wine? Researchers have now found that the taste perception of wine does not only take place in the mouth, but primarily in our brain.

The scientists at the Yale School of Medicine found that the taste of wine is perceived in our brain. The results of the investigation were summarized by the author Dr. Gordon Shepherd in his book "Neuroenology: How the Brain Creates the Taste of Wine".

Drinking wine puts a lot of strain on the brain
Drinking wine is the ideal workout for your brain. Before drinking, smelling and analyzing the wine, requires exquisite control over one of the largest muscles in the human body, explains Dr. Shepherd. Then, when the liquid is put in the mouth, the intricate muscles of the tongue are combined with thousands of taste and smell receptors. The whole process takes more effort from the brain than listening to music or solving a difficult math problem, the author adds.

Wine drinkers use their own frame of reference for flavor processing
Dr. Shepherd has spent years studying how the human brain processes taste. He found that the taste is much more subjective than previously thought. Every drinker uses their own frame of reference to process the taste. This depends heavily on our own memories and emotions, the author explains.

What does the smell of wine do?
Two things are particularly important for the taste perception of wine: the movement of the wine through the mouth and the movement of the air through the nose and throat. The most important contribution from our sense of smell does not come from sniffing the wine, but from the molecules that are released in our mouth when we exhale, the study author is quoted by the English-language journal “The Independent”.

The brain creates the taste of the wine
The molecules in wine have no taste, but when they stimulate our brain, the brain creates taste in the same way that color creates it, said Dr. The brain creates color by reacting to the effects created when the light hits the objects we see, which are actually inherently colorless. The taste is not in the wine, the taste is created by the brain of the wine drinker, explains the expert.

Swallowing is important for wine tasting
It is typical to spit the wine into a bucket during a wine tasting. However, swallowing is an important part of the tasting process, explains Dr. Sheperd. After a few small sips, the brain is already saturated with information. This makes processing the taste difficult.

Unwanted consequences when consuming too much wine
In addition to the difficulty in processing the taste in the human brain, consuming too much wine can cause significant unpleasant effects, which in the worst case can lead to alcohol poisoning. (as)

Author and source information



Video: Wine 101 with UW Professor Michael Wagner (October 2021).