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Wine Lighting: The New Mood Lighting?

Kelsey Chesterfield

One of our Wine Club members recently asked us a question about the sensory experience when wine tasting and how your surroundings can affect the way wine is perceived - especially regarding lighting. Naturally, we were intrigued and launched into the research - here’s what we found.

There have been numerous studies over the years raising this specific question, and guess what? Not only have results shown that the lighting does impact your perception of the wine’s flavors and aromas, but you should also pay attention to which colors are most prominent in your wine tasting/enjoying space!

But how? And what is the best lighting for wine tasting?

Pouring wine at night Well, in any experiment, there are various aspects to consider when trying to single out one variable, such as light. A study conducted by German Psychologists was published in the Journal of Sensory Studies in 2009 named: Wine and Color: Effects of Ambient Light on Taste and Aroma. In order to properly assess the ambient light, they needed to test what the reactions would be under different colored lights.

Their experiments placed participants in one of four colored rooms: red, green, blue and white. They were then given a “blind tasting” by pouring the wine into a black wine glass. The subjects were then asked to rate the wine based on aroma, flavor qualities, intensity, overall impression, and maximum price they would pay for the wine in their glass.

What they found was that the colored lights affected the participants in various ways, such as those under blue and green lights rated the wine as spicier where as those under red perceived the wine as sweeter. They also found that those under red light would pay more for the wine they tasted. So what does this mean for ambient light? Well, they tested that too and found “a statistically significant effect of the ambient color on global liking.” Meaning, the participants in natural lighting had much more favorable responses overall for their perception of the wine in their glass.

Moral of the story?

Pouring white wineLighting as close as possible to ambient lighting is best. Ambient lighting is natural sunlight, whether that is found outdoors or from a nearby window, as opposed to artificial lights such as fluorescents. Luckily, many artificial light sources now have the option for a ‘warmer’ colored bulb, which can mimic the warm tones of sunlight.

Since lighting does impact how we perceive wines, that means tasting rooms should pay attention to not only the natural light available, but also the paint colors chosen for the room as a whole. But this does not only apply to tasting rooms or wine professionals! You could get even more out of your wine of the month club shipments based on which lights you turn on in your home.

Ben Kazinik, lighting expert from Brightech says, “You want your lighting to look natural, and ambient lighting is the best to do that. I would recommend a 2700K bulb and a nice floor lamp that is uplit, meaning it faces up. The higher your lamp is shining the more light will come down and disperse around the room. If you point your lamp down, it will leave large parts of the room dark.” For an example of a lamp like this, see their SKY Plus floor lamp.

Bonus points for those who conduct their own experiment at home!

Red wine in warm lightAre there rooms painted different colors in your home? Try opening a bottle from a recent wine club shipment and walk around - making sure to spend enough time in each room to soak in the ambiance. Then taste your wine and see if your impression of its aromas or flavors change.