Did you know that just changing the light and music can alter how you perceive a wine by up to 20%? Ever wondered why that bottle of holiday rosé was such a crushing disappointment when you got it home?

High-tempo music can make a dish taste more spicy – lower-pitch sounds bring out bitterness in wine. (Though, ‘we can’t turn water into wine musically…yet.’) Rubbing velvet versus sandpaper can change how you perceive a wine’s body. Even the microbiomes in our gut and mouth can affect our perception of a wine.

Welcome to the curious world of Professor Charles Spence – experimental psychologist and one of the world’s foremost experts in multisensory perception. He follows on from what the Italian Futurists pioneered in the 1930s (and they, according to Spence, ‘recommended turning up to dinner parties in pyjamas made from satin, silk, velvet and sandpaper, and eating the food without cutlery by burying your face in the plate while rubbing your neighbour’s jim-jams…’)

This is the first in a series of programmes we’ll be doing on wine and food. Before we launch into the delicious nitty-gritty, we wanted to understand the world of taste and flavour in more depth. So here we dive into the world of smell, sound, touch, sight, taste, atmosphere, glassware, bottles, genetics – and the future.

In the mix are hyper-directional speakers and sound showers, ‘spit-in-bag’ dinners, parosmia, artificial reality and drinking liquid gold. 

What Spence finds ‘intriguing’ are, ‘ those potentially transformative or magical experiences that you might get by combining wine with food or music.’

This is our kind of science – and this fascinating episode serves as the perfect launch-pad to leap into the delicious world of food and wine. Bon appetit!



Interview transcript

Transcript to follow shortly