Lighting Influences the Taste of Wine, New Study Shows

Lighting influences how wine tastes and how much consumers are willing to pay for it, according to National Lighting Bureau. The report cited conclusions drawn from a series of three German experiments in which more than 500 people tasted Riesling wines under various lighting environments. A report on the study was published in the December 2009 issue of Journal of Sensory Studies.

According to the Bureau, the only significant variable in the experiments was the ambient lighting in the study spaces. Tested in a series of fluorescent lamps that produced red, blue, green, or white light, participants rated the wine's quality higher, in general, when they drank it in a room where ambient lighting was red or blue, when compared to green or white light. Participants also said test wine was much sweeter and fruitier when sampled in a room illuminated by red-tinted fluorescent lamps, and were willing to spend more for it.

In the first experiment, 150 people sampled the same wine in a specially designed, windowless tasting room. Participants scored each sample on fruitiness, spiciness, bitterness, sourness, and sweetness. On average, the participants liked the wine better when they drank it under the influence of red or blue light rather than green or white.

In another experiment, 135 students sampled eight pours of wine and perceived them to be spicier when tasted under blue or green light rather than red or white. Other experiments found that tasters said the wine was fruitier when the red light was on.

“It seems evident that lighting color - which includes the color of room surfaces - affects the taste of wine," said NLB Chair Howard P. Lewis. Researchers and Lewis suggest that serious wine tastings should be conducted in neutral-color environments.

More information about the National Lighting Bureau is available at its website, or by contacting the National Lighting Bureau office 301-587-9572 or by e-mail,


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