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Accepted abstract - Creative Tastebuds Symposium

Drinking textures: The influence of touching extrinsic tactile materials on wine perception

By Qian Janice Wang, University of Oxford

Shortly after the First World War, the Italian Futurists held dinner parties where touching the clothing of one’s neighbours was all part of the eating experience. Beyond mere artistic whimsy, though, the latest research demonstrates that the flavour and hedonic evaluation of foods can be modulated by the surface texture of packaging materials and servingware (not to mention the texture of the food itself). The present study was designed to assess the role of touching different textures on the evaluation of wine aromas and flavours. Participants evaluated samples of a dessert wine whilst simultaneously touching either a small swatch of velvet or sandpaper with their dominant hand. Participants first smelled the wine while touching different materials. The aroma of the wine was rated in terms of intensity, acidity, fruitiness, and pleasantness. After rating the aroma, the participants then had to taste the wine while touching different materials. The flavour of the wine was rated in terms of its intensity, acidity, sweetness, tannin level, and pleasantness. Overall, the aroma of the wine was judged to be significantly less fruity and more acidic when participants simultaneously touched sandpaper rather than velvet. When it came to the flavour of the wine itself (i.e., on tasting), the wine was judged to be significantly more tannic, acidic, and less pleasant when touching sandpaper than when touching velvet. These results imply that extrinsic sensory stimuli can influence not only multisensory flavour perception but aroma evaluation as well. One explanation for the difference in mouthfeel (tannins) is in terms of sensory transference, while the influence on acidity and fruitiness may be due to hedonic mapping between stimuli.