According to a recent study conducted in Belgium, the taste of the beer you’re drinking can change according to the music you’re listening to. In the study, they mentioned that “participants tasted a beer twice, and rated the experience, each time under the influence of a different sound stimulus. The participants were not informed that they were, in fact, tasting the same beer. The objective was to determine whether soundtracks that have previously been shown to correspond to the different basic tastes would significantly modulate the perceived sweetness, bitterness, sourness, and alcohol content of the beers.”
What the experiment did was sit volunteers from the Music Instruments Museum in Brussels down and give them three different beers in a range of styles and with alcohol content that varied from 4.5 to 8 percent ABV. And while they were drinking their beers, three different kinds of music were playing and then were asked to taste and rate each beer while listening to the music playing.
They found that while listening to a more pop-y song, the beer was rated as sweet, while deep bass made the beer taste bitter. Apparently the individual’s musical tastes may also come into play, so when listening to a pop-y and sweet song, “the participant transfers their experience and feelings about the music to the beer that they happen to be tasting at the time”.
And it doesn’t just work on beer…
The study also said that it “underlines the potential of sound to enhance eating/drinking experiences. In this way, those working in the food industry may feel progressively more confident in adopting new multisensory techniques while designing eating/drinking experiences.”
Which makes sense in a way, because if you were to eat a plate of chicken wings while listening to country music, they might taste differently to what they would taste like if you had rock music playing in the background. While some might say that it’s all in your head, that isn’t wrong either. The science behind it might be a little more complicated to explain and/or understand. Think of it this way – when you eat popcorn in a crowded theatre it tastes like the best thing you’ve ever had, but make a bowl of popcorn at home and enjoy it on your own, it doesn’t have the same effect of relief. Even if you’ve got a house full of people and you’re enjoying a movie night with popcorn made in your microwave, the taste is different.
Even a glass of wine tastes different when you’re drinking at home with your family and if you’re drinking it with your friends at a pub or bar. While music might not necessarily be the reason for the change in taste, it’s definitely related to sound on the whole. The environment of where you are does change the way you feel, which then transfers to whatever you’re eating or drinking and the obvious reason is that your behavior and attitude changes depending on where you are.
It’s an interesting study and gives you a lot to think about. It’s definitely something that people should try, simply to see if it works for them.