Do people prefer drinking weak wine?
A new study conducted by Spanish neuroscientists at the Basque Center of Cognition, Brain, and Language, found that most people prefer think wine with a lower alcohol content tastes because it allows them to focus on the diverse flavor profiles of the beverage.
Study participants were given different samples of red wine to drink while their brains were scanned in a functional MRI machine. While they sipped, the neurologists found that when people drank the lower alcohol red wine, there was increased brain activity in the “taste processing” areas, including the insula and cerebellum, than when a wine with a higher alcohol content was consumed.
The findings support certain wine critics’ belief that newer wines from Australia and California that tend to be higher in alcohol and bolder in flavor may not be as good as “Old World” wines from France and Spain.
“The main criticisms of this “New World” (high alcohol) approach to winemaking are that these wines often lack finesse, and also that the high-alcoholic content overshadows the subtle flavors and aromas that the wine could exude,” the authors conclude. “Our findings seem to support this view… The low-alcohol content wines induced a greater attentional orienting and exploration of the sensory attributes of wines relatively to high-alcohol content wines.”
Over the past 30 years, wines have been getting more alcoholic, according to the study. Thirty years ago, most wine was about 12 percent ABV while today there are plenty of wines that hover somewhere between 14 and 15 percent ABV.
“Winemakers have been producing wines with a higher alcohol content, assuming that they are more appreciated by consumers,” the neuroscientists say. But their study found that stronger wines aren’t necessarily preferred by drinkers and may in fact hinder their ability to process nuanced flavors. Of course, the study was conducted by Spanish scientists but the study authors claim their research is unbiased.
So a strong wine may get you drunk, but that doesn’t mean you’ll like it.