Wine-Culture: How consumption and culture interact

Social and cultural norms, expectations and rules effect not only human behaviour but also have an impact on neurological functioning. This is what a lot of psychologists and neuroscientists are dedicating their lives to study. On a similar endeavour, we are exploring how much this is true in the field of wine tasting.

While this has never been studied before in India, past research has helped us pursue a direction in our study. In 2007 in California Institute of Technology, Hike Plassman and his colleagues attempted to determine the relation between price and taste experience of the wine. 11 subjects tried out 5 apparently different wines which they were told were priced differently. In actuality, they tasted 3 wines, 2 of them being repeated with a fake price being quoted. Thus there was an actual $5 wine, the $5 wine which was quoted to be $45, a $90 wine, the $90 wine which was quoted to be $10 and a $35 wine. Results showed that participants were more likely to choose the wines which they thought to be more expensive as the better tasting one. Along with this, the researchers also recorded fMRI data of the participants. They found that when consuming a cheap wine there was little activation in the medial orbitofrontal cortex, the portion of the brain related to experiences of pleasure. However when participants consumed the same wine thinking it is an expensive one, there were higher levels of activation in this area. Thus, it can be concluded that the taste experience of a wine is dependent not just on its actual sensory characteristics but also certain expectations that humans hold regarding price.

Another study in this field was done by Charles S. Areni and David Kim. They studied the influence of background music on shopping behaviour, specifically in a wine store. They manipulated background music as being either classical music (Mozart, Choplin, Vivaldi) or popular music of the time, selected from Top 40 album lists. Results showed that shoppers purchased more expensive bottles when classical music was played. The researchers explain the results by saying that wine consumption is a sophisticated and high status activity and thus the Top 40 music is incompatible as it is indicative of a more common and lower status environment.

These kinds of consumption studies shed light on the influence of cultural factors on economic processes. This is an important finding for all organisations looking to market the good or service effectively.

Our study is similar to the previously mentioned studies, but yet the methods used and objectives are different. We attempt to determine the relation between mood & music, and beverage consumption. Participants will be tasting 2 kinds of wines and 2 kinds of juices, and the study will determine how the experience of consumption of this beverages is influenced by music and mood.

In conducting this study, we are indebted to the help by Sula Wines. Sula is on the forefront of wine production in India and their massive and beautiful vineyards at Nashik, near Mumbai are only a testament to their success.


Intuitively conceived, scientifically proven


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