Does Knowledge Of The Wine You Drink Impact The Taste?

15th June 2023

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Sometimes we are drinking wine but actually we don’t know exactly what wine it is. This is of course the case when we do a blind tasting, but also when we drink wine at a reception or sometimes at a friends house. The glasses are filled up, but with which wine exactly? But although we do not know up front which specific wine we drink, we are able to assess it in terms of the taste which it creates in our mouth and maybe also by seeing it in the glass. But if we knew what wine it precisely was, would it have an impact on the taste we experience?

‘A Drinking Song’.

Wine comes in at the mouth
And love comes in at the eye;
That’s all we shall know for truth,
Before we grow old and die.
I lift the glass to my mouth,
I look at you and I sigh.

W. B. Yeats

When drinking wine our senses perceive various impressions. We taste the flavors with our tongue. We smell the aromas with the our nose. We feel the texture and temperature with our mouth. And with our eyes and ears we see and potentially even hear characteristics of the physical constitution of the wine. All these impressions combined give us an integrated experience. But if we know, when tasting, what wine we actually are drinking, does this impact this integrated experience? Can the tasting impressions be altered or supported by our thoughts, only by knowing what exactly we are drinking?

As all perceived impressions are ultimately projected in our consciousness.

What we can say of course is that having knowledge about a wine, like the possible range of aromas, while drinking, might add to your understanding and appreciation of the wine. And as such the experience of drinking that wine might be influenced. When knowing what specific wine we are drinking, it may trigger to search for certain specific characteristics who otherwise would be lost in the bigger palate. Or when you know the wine is a very exceptional vintage and highly valuable, it can create a huge excitement to drink it. The more familiar one is with various wines, especially similar ones, the more you can appreciate what is special about the one you’re drinking. This means that comparative knowledge, based on tasting experience, can enhance your perception. In this way this knowledge can add to the overall experience. But does it impact the taste as such?

The best way to make wines taste better
is to taste better wines!

It all depends of course on what we see as the overall taste experience. Is the drinking experience only the impact of the physical process where the liquid reaches our externally oriented senses? Or does our experience also consist of the internally generated thoughts about the liquid? For me thinking, the process of having or to put it better, being aware of thoughts, is a real experience. And if the thoughts are related to the liquid we drink, it is then de facto a complementary perception of the wine. To make it more specific. Tasting creates mental input through physical contact (including sight and hearing), which ultimately takes form in thoughts – like the idea of being dry, high alcohol or sour.

“It’s all by the mind, in ‘your’ consciousness,
as The All is consciousness”
(Corné van Nijhuis)

Tasting Roger Constant Lemaire Trianon 1966

At the same time our mind and memory can create mental input, not directly resulting from the physical perceptions, in other words, mentally created thoughts on the liquid. These thoughts can as such add to or influence the thoughts we perceived from those resulting from direct physical input. As such can knowledge about the wine we drink, give us prejudices or confirmations which can impact our judgement and as such our drinking experience? So, if we define the taste of wine as the sensory perception and from that the mental experience it brings, we can conclude that knowledge of the wine you drink has an impact on what you taste.

Good vibes!

Corné van Nijhuis
World’s first self-declared Vinosopher

Corné van Nijhuis

Longing for knowledge and wisdom about the nature of wine and the existential meaning associated with it, which makes him a self-declared vinosopher.