“Luxury can be an intellectual experience.”
Master Sommelier Clément Robert
Today I am writing about and making connections between the things that I love: wine and food, of course; music, as 95% of Brazilians love to sing and dance; plus, science and technology! Yes, you read correctly, science and technology.
I am fascinated with technology, and I agree with Clement Robert in his interview at The Drinks Business - pairing wine with food is not a simple thing, there are so many aspects involved. He explains that the customer might be interested only in the food, or only in the wine, and won’t have the same experience. The intellect has a big impact on the multi-sensory experience, even more so with the expensive experiences - the client will expect something else to add value - and that’s where science and technology play a role, enhancing the whole wine and food experience.
I watched the presentation, “The Perfect Meal” by Charles Spence, a professor of Experimental Psychology at Oxford University and head of the Crossmodal Research Lab. In it, he talks about his research, which I separate into different topics to be able to explain, in a simple way, about how science & technology can help the wine & hospitality industries.
Meeting customers’ high expectations has been a challenge for fine dining restaurants - with so many technologies around, our brain is constantly changing, and we are always wanting more. That’s why businesses can’t afford to be scared of change, and need to accept innovations to be able to achieve success. According to Charles Spence, “Technology can enhance the dining experience”. He explains how a business can create a unique, stimulating, engaging and unforgettable experience by using different tools. It isn’t just about excellent food, excellent wine or even a perfect match between both – it’s about expectation.
Expectations then drive an emotional response, which has a multi-sensorial effect on the wine and food experience. The other day I was looking at my friend’s Instagram stories, and saw that a winery in Brazil was producing personalized sparkling wine labels with the names of a few important people in the wine industry, which they sent to those people as a special gift. Coca-Cola is doing the same thing, you can find your name on a bottle of Coca-Cola! This causes a sensation of feeling special, of privilege, which is one of the reasons the final consumer might buy expensive wines, or pay more for a wine and food experience.
Now we understand what is involved in wine and food experiences, we know what we need to focus on to cause a memorable experience, something that will imprint on your brain. Charles explained that during his research he created 3 different scenarios where the visual and audio environment was controlled, and varied, influencing people’s mood and changing their perception of taste. He explained that things can taste sweeter or more bitter depending on your mood. That’s where science can help us to meet high expectations, because the brain is unconsciously influenced by outside surroundings.
“A growing body of scientific evidence now shows that what people taste when evaluating a wine, and how much they enjoy the experience, can be influenced by music. The latest research now shows that by playing the “right” music, one can also impact specific sensory-discriminative aspects of tasting as well. Music has been shown to influence the perceived acidity, sweetness, fruitiness, astringency, and length of wine.” - Charles Spence
Of course, someone like me, who loves research, new ideas, meeting new people, and exceeding expectations couldn’t resist incorporating this research into my latest presentations, where I have been providing a “Wine and Music Experience”. And do you know what? People absolutely love it! I can’t wait to do more, and create new wine experiences.
I will leave you with an experience suggested by Clark Smith, for you do at home in the next time you drink a Cabernet Sauvignon.
“Cabernet Sauvignon, taste it and take note of the level of astringency. Boot up iTunes, put on the Doors’ “People Are Strange” and taste again. You’ll see the wine smooth out. Then put on “When The Saints Go Marching” (Louis Armstrong’s Golden Legends version will work). The wine will become almost undrinkably harsh.” - Clark Smith