Wine producers could soon be recommending the Rolling Stones with Syrah and Mozart with Merlot after new research found a direct connection between music and the way wines taste.
The study, carried out by Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh for Chilean wine company Montes, suggests that choosing the right background soundtrack could be crucial to getting the most out of specific styles of wine.
Professor Adrian North, who led the research, explained that when a powerful piece of music such as O Fortuna from Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana is played, a wine like Montes Alpha Cabernet Sauvignon is perceived as being 60% richer and more robust than when no music is heard.
Similarly, a style like Montes Alpha Chardonnay seems 40% bolder and fresher when accompanied by pop.
A total of 250 adults were recruited on a university campus and offered a free glass of wine in return for answering questions about its taste. They drank the wine in one of five rooms, each of which played a different style of music – or no music – and were then asked to rate the wine’s taste according to set parameters.
‘It is widely acknowledged within the scientific community that music affects behaviour,’ said North. ‘However, this is the first time it has been scientifically proven that music can affect perception in other senses and change the way wine tastes.’
The research is based on the theory of cognitive priming, which holds that certain styles of music stimulate, or prime, certain parts of the brain. When wine is tasted, these areas are already active and have a corresponding effect on our perceptions of taste.
Montes founder and winemaker Aurelio Montes already uses music in the production process, playing monastic chants to his maturing casks of wine in his Feng Shui-optimised barrel room. Now the company is investigating the possibility of adding music recommendations to its back labels.
Montes’ recommended wine and music matches
Cabernet Sauvignon: All Along The Watchtower (Jimi Hendrix), Honky Tonk Woman (Rolling Stones), Live And Let Die (Paul McCartney and Wings), Won’t Get Fooled Again (The Who)
Chardonnay: Atomic (Blondie), Rock DJ (Robbie Williams), What’s Love Got To Do With It (Tina Turner), Spinning Around (Kylie Minogue)
Syrah: Nessun Dorma (Puccini), Orinoco Flow (Enya), Chariots Of Fire (Vangelis), Canon (Johann Pachelbel)
Merlot: Sitting On The Dock Of The Bay (Otis Redding), Easy (Lionel Ritchie), Over The Rainbow (Eva Cassidy), Heartbeats (Jose Gonzalez)
Written by Richard Woodard