It’s all about the way we generate flavors.
The term might have a negative connotation, but it’s something that every wine snob knows it. And now, the Yale neuroscientist Gordon Shepherd explains it.
He says that the act of tasting wine stimulates the brain more than activities like tackling a difficult math problem or listening to music.
Basically, the closest you’ll ever come to being Einstein is when doing trigonometry while drinking wine with Mozart playing in the background.
The researcher explains in his book that wine tasting engages more of the human’s brain than any other activity.
He delves into the process of creating the wine flavor in the brain with extreme detail, from the wine dynamics of how it’s manipulated in the mouth to the effects of its smell, appearance, and mouthfeel.
He even explains how the brain process and share this information. While we use a specific source of knowledge when dealing with math problems, when it comes to wine tasting we engage completely.
Shepherd says that when we sip wine, we move it about before swallowing it, and that’s an extremely complex motor act. However, the most complex part of wine tasting is connected to our brain. In order for us to enjoy the wine, our brain first has to create the flavor.
The molecules in wine lack flavor or taste, but our brain creates them when they stimulate it. It’s the same thing with color – the brain creates it when the light hits the object and strikes our eyes. It’s a pretty complex philosophy.
However, how’s taste different to other senses? Well, our sense of taste involves many sensory processes and body systems.
It involves our sense of sight (when seeing it), sense of smell (when sniffing in and breathing out), and sense of touch (when touching it with our tongue and feeling it in our mouth). What’s more, the physical process of tasting involves many muscle and motor systems (the tongue, cheek, jaw, neck, etc.)
Furthermore, it involves brain systems like memory systems (recognizing the wine flavor), hormonal systems (delivering the pleasure response), and the region that controls motivation (to decide if we’re going to keep drinking or not).
The final decision on the wine ranking involves the pleasure network. Last but not least, we involve the brain region responsible for language and communication when telling people about the wine we’ve just tasted.
As you can see, wine tasting is a lot more complex than putting it in our mouth and swallowing it. It’s almost as a food. But, is our brain behaving equally when tasting wine and food?
Researchers explain that food is composed of molecules that give it its distinct taste and those that provide nutrition.
On the other hand, the molecules of wine provide only its characteristic taste, so that’s why drinking wine enables us to concentrate solely on the details about flavor.
The next time you drink a glass of good wine, think about the complex job your brain is performing in order for you to enjoy it.
Travel and Leisure | NBC News