Listening to music while drinking wine can make that wine 15 percent more enjoyable, suggests a recent study from Oxford University.
Different wines needed different music to maximize flavor, but researchers also found that sound had an effect on the taste and texture of wine. Heavy red wines like malbec, for example, tasted heavier when paired with heavy organ music, while light white wines paired best with mellow harp music. Heavy music tended to make drinkers perceive their wine as heavier, and lighter music was associated with a lighter taste, even when the music was played back to back.
The effect of music, which researchers dubbed “sonic seasoning,” can theoretically be used to provide balance to wine as well. “One could also imagine ‘sweet’ music to mute the tannic astringency in a young oaked Rioja,” researchers write, or else render an acidic white wine “almost undrinkable” by when the sour notes in the wine are accentuated by playing some of Bruno Mesz’s mathematically transformed Argentinian tango or else Nils Oklan’s “Horisont.” When tasting sauvignon blanc, drinkers noted a higher acidity in the wine when listening to Debussy’s “Jardins Sous la Pluie” than Rachmaninoff’s “Vocalise” and in the case of malbec, “Vocalise” produced “higher fruitiness than ‘Jardins Sous la Pluie’.”
The reason behind the sensory connection behind wine and music, the researchers write, is likely because “by paying attention to the music we are listening to, our attention might be drawn toward one component of the rich sensory experience associated with a wine rather than another.”
“A rapidly growing body of empirical research now demonstrates that matching wines can bring something out in the wine, and hence, change people’s experience when tasting wine. Finally, it is perhaps also worth bearing in mind the impact that the music can have both on what we choose to drink and how rapidly and how much we end up drinking.”