New scientific research in the field of neurogastronomy has revealed how hard the brain has to work in order to process the taste of wine. The complex processes we engage in are in fact akin to listening to music or solving a difficult maths equation. According to this scientific disclosure, the reason for this is that wine molecules do not actually possess an inherent flavour, so when they stimulate our brains, we are forced to create the flavour we are tasting. News to us?
Dr Shepherd, a leading professor in neuroscience at Yale, studies both sensory and physical responses to food and drink and has written a book called ‘Neuroenology: How The Brain Creates The Taste Of Wine’. The research is corroborated by leading gastronomy figures such as Heston Blumenthal and Spanish chef Ferran Adrià, so it seems to be a validated theory.
Apparently, the act of even sniffing wine necessitates ‘exquisite control of one of the biggest muscles in the body’ and, equally, moving it around your mouth employs complex muscles that control the tongue and one’s taste and odour receptors. So not only is it mentally laborious, it’s also physically strenuous – making it one of the most vigorous work-outs there are !
It is worth noting that the intricacy of flavour creation is only triggered if you sip the wine, which is why downing a big glass won’t make it taste very nice, as the pure taste of the alcohol will stick to your taste buds. The way we form this nuanced flavour can depend on our own memories and emotions, and what we associate with certain smells/tastes. Other factors are also claimed to be age and gender as well as saliva composition.
So, essentially, there is a reason your friend will love that Argentinian Malbec whilst you find it far too bitter and smoky. We can conclude that wine is utterly subjective, but whatever takes your fancy, you can rest assured that your brain activity is off the scale, no need for the gym this week.
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This article originally appeared on The Debrief.