Wines & Vines Home
   
 
Welcome Guest
LOGIN |  CREATE ACCOUNT
 
ADVERTISEMENT
 
 
 
02.22.2010  
 

Shedding Light on Wine Flavor

New study reports that lighting color affects flavor and value perception during wine tasting

 
by Jane Firstenfeld
 
 
Penner Ash tasting room lights
 
Architects emphasize the desirable qualities of controlled natural light in tasting rooms, shown here at Penner-Ash Winery in Oregon's Willamette Valley, designed by Waterleaf Architecture.
 
Silver Spring, Md. -- Recent research contends that lighting can influence both how wine tastes and how much consumers are willing to pay for it. “Ambient Lighting Modifies the Flavor of Wine,” details conclusions from three German experiments in which more than 500 people tasted Riesling wines under different lighting conditions. Originally published in the December 2009 Journal of Sensory Studies, the National Lighting Bureau in Silver Spring, Md., forwarded a summary of the results.

The lighting experiments involved “blind” tastings in different settings using controlled fluorescent lighting. According to the summary, “People rated the wine's quality higher, in general, when they drank it in a room whose ambient lighting was red or blue vs. green or white. They also found the test wine much sweeter and fruitier when sampled in a room illuminated by red-tinted fluorescent lamps, and were willing to spend more for it.”

When dry and semi-dry Rieslings were tasted, “Participants perceived a wine to be spicier when they tasted it under blue or green light rather than red or white. Interestingly, blue lighting made the wine taste bitter, but subjects nonetheless liked the wine more under those lighting conditions,” researchers reported.

According to NLB, the researchers intend to conduct additional experiments. “In the meantime, it seems evident that lighting color -- which includes the color of room surfaces -- affects the taste of wine,” NLB chair Howard Lewis stated. Lewis concurred with lead researcher Dr. Daniel Oberfeld-Twistel that serious wine tastings should be conducted in neutral-color environments.

Wines & Vines asked several experts in tasting room design to read and comment on the report. Architect Scott Hall at Hall & Bartley, Santa Rosa, Calif., said, “In our experience, we tend to favor warm colors in a tasting room over cool colors.…We find that for tasting, the best from a perception standpoint is natural sunlight.”

Obviously, in a wine cave or after dark, natural sunlight is not always an option. And, while energy efficiency may dictate using fluorescent lighting, “We always try to use incandescent lighting for accent. Typically, this is in the form of pendant incandescent or halogen fixtures suspended over or directed at the bar surface,” because this mimics natural sunlight, Hall noted.

“Sunlight does tend to have bias toward warm tones, in that it favors the red end of the spectrum,” he said, adding that fluorescent lights tend to flatten things out because of their diffuse quality. “Just as with crystal, wine is more appealing when it sparkles with reflection of point sources of light.”
St. Francis Winery tasting room lighting
 
Make it sparkle: Several experts stressed the importance of sparkle in winery tasting rooms. Sonoma Valley's St. Francis Winery tasting room by Hall & Bartley shows off its polish.
Stephen Lapp, a partner at Waterleaf Architecture, Portland, Ore., commented, “I'm not surprised that perceptions of wine quality varied with the color of light. As a designer of wineries and tasting rooms, we always advocate the importance of appropriate lighting -- both natural and artificial -- combined with the ambience (that) materials and finishes contribute to a space.

“We're creatures of emotions that are tempered by our environment, so changing the quality of light will change our emotive response to an experience.”

Lapp stressed the importance of controlled natural lighting for tasting rooms. “You want to avoid glare conditions that make an uncomfortable or distracting experience.” When supplementary light is needed for accent, or for evening and cave/cellar events, “We recommend light with a high 'color rendition index' (CRI), approximately the color of daylight,” he said. Thoughtful lamping is important, he pointed out, because different light sources have different CRI levels and deliver light differently.

He, too, cited the sparkle factor. “Halogen sources can provide sparkle on stemware, focusing attention on the wine and the wine-tasting experience. It provides shadows and sparkle similar to what we experience outdoors during a sunny early evening, when we're milling around enjoying food, wine, and our friends.”

Jeff Goodwin of San Francisco's BAR Architects, was especially interested in the conclusion of the original study: “The emotions elicited by a certain light color do not seem to be the cause of the effects. An alternative explanation could be an influence of color on cognition, for example by making us more accessible and responsive for a certain taste.”

Goodwin was curious about other attributes of the light used in the experiments: Was the light direct or indirect? Intense or subdued? These differences, he pointed out, could also affect people's emotions and/or sensory responses.

“Anecdotally, and probably like many designers, I do believe that beautiful lighting and beautiful spaces can make people more receptive to what they experience with their senses,” he added.

Tasting room consultant and lecturer Craig Root, St. Helena, Calif., has a degree in psychology, not architecture, but he noted that the research itself took place in deliberately artificial settings: windowless, fluorescent-lit tasting rooms.

While conceding, “I'm a function guy, not a designer,” he emphasized that customers' tasting room experiences all vary with the atmosphere, and pointed out that music has also been demonstrated to affect tasting perceptions. Root skeptically referred to a quotation (attributed by Mark Twain to Benjamin Disraeli): “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics.”

He pondered that Germany's northern climate might have colored the subjects' preference for normally unflattering blue light, for instance. He referred to studies by retail anthropologist Paco Underhill, author of Why We Buy: The Science of Shopping, which showed that motion is attractive: Fluttering banners can bring more customers to your tasting room (or used car dealership). Twinkly lights sparkling off exterior windows might have a similar effect, he speculated.

“Tasting rooms are like theater,” he said. Your staging, and your stage lighting, could -- should -- be worth a second look.
SHARE »
Close
 
Currently no comments posted for this article.
 
CURRENT NEWS INDEX »


 
Wines & Vines Home
 
866.453.9701 | 415.453.9700 | Fax: 415.453.2517
65 Mitchell Blvd., Ste. A San Rafael, CA 94903
info@winesandvines.com
Wine Industry Metrics
 
Off-Premise Sales » Month   12 Months  
December 2014 $776 million
3%
$7,866 million
5%
December 2013 $755 million $7,470 million
     
Direct-to-Consumer Shipments » Month   12 Months  
December 2014 $166 million
14%
$1,820 million
15%
December 2013 $145 million $1,576 million
     
Winery Job Index » Month   12 Months  
December 2014 155
27%
229
14%
December 2013 122 200
     
 
MORE » Released on 01.15.2015
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 
 

Direct To Consumer
Wine Shipping Report
2015
 
Download full report »
 
 

Practical Winery & Vineyard Library
 
Search the PWV archive »
 
 

CALENDAR
  • January 27
     
    Wine Market Council Research Conference, New York
     
  • January 27-29
     
    Unified Wine & Grape Symposium
     
  • January 28
     
    Working with Third Party Reviewers
     
  • January 28
     
    Create Your 2015 Event Calendar
     
  • MORE »
 

READER COMMENTS
 
Article: Who's Confused About Champagne? »
 
I think Korbel is missing an opportunity to reap a public relations bonanza. They could...
Reader: Donn Rutkoff
 
Article: Wine Flash Sales Activity Still Strong »
 
Thanks for the comment. It's a good point. We have added a line to the...
Reader: Jim Gordon
 
Article: Wine Flash Sales Activity Still Strong »
 
The bar chart at the top of this article is misleading. Nowhere in the chart...
Reader: Guest
 
Article: Tasting the Effects of Wine Closures »
 
I am a few months behind on reading so I was happy to see what...
Reader: David Coffaro
 
Article: B.C.'s Higher Markups Worry U.S. Exporters »
 
I suggest that the new mark-up structure worries BC fine wine drinkers as much as...
Reader: Marc Ofthenorth
 
 


Directory/Buyer's Guide — Your Wine Industry Marketplace
 
 
WINERY SEARCH
 
 
Advanced Search »
SUPPLIER SEARCH
   by Product
 by Company Name or Brand
 
Browse by Category »
2015 Directory/Buyer's Guide
The Wines & Vines Directory and Buyer's Guide
 
 
EXPANDED ONLINE SEARCH INCLUDED WITH PURCHASE
 
ORDER NOW »
 
LEARN MORE »
 
 
Wines & Vines Magazine
 
 
LEARN MORE »
 
SUBSCRIBE »
 
Digital Edition Now Available!
Wines & Vines Digital Edition Now Available
 
LEARN MORE »
 
ORDER NOW »
 
 
The Wines & Vines Online Marketing System
 
The Industry Standard winery marketing application
 
FREE LIVE DEMO »
 
VIEW VIDEO »
 
 
 
 
Latest Job Listings
 Tasting Room Host
 Healdsburg, CA
DTC, Tasting Room and Retai
 Mt. Beautiful Regional...
 Newark, NJ
Sales and Marketing
 Tasting Room Cashier/G...
 Napa, CA
DTC, Tasting Room and Retai
 Harvest Intern
 Sebastopol, CA
Winemaking and Production
 Lab Intern
 Sebastopol, CA
Winemaking and Production
 Coppola Hiring Event
 Geyserville, CA
General Administration and
 Tasting Room Associate
 St. Helena, CA
DTC, Tasting Room and Retai
 Tasting Room Attendant
 Plymouth (Amador County), CA
DTC, Tasting Room and Retai
 Wine Buyer/ Retail Man...
 Cumming, GA
DTC, Tasting Room and Retai
 Controller
 Paso Robles, CA
General Administration and
 
More Job Listings >>
Follow Us On:
 
 





Home  |  About Us  |  Editors  |  Subscribe  |  Print Edition  |  Digital Edition

Advertise  |  Site Map  |  Contact Us  |  Privacy Policy
 
 
Copyright © 2001-2015 by Wine Communications Group, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
No material may be reproduced without written permission of the Publisher.
Wines&Vines does not assume any responsibility for any unsolicited manuscripts or materials.