The research comes from Professor Charles Spence, an expert in the field of multisensory science, and the collaborating scientist behind Heston Blumenthal’s Sound of the Sea dish.
His study tested whether the sound and sight of a cork-stopped and screwcap wine being opened would influence the perception of the wine inside the bottle.
Participants tried and rated two identical wines after having being played the sound of a cork popping, and then again after having heard a screwcap being open. They were then asked to open the bottles and rate them again.
The participants rated the exact same wine as 15% better quality when served from a bottle with a cork as opposed to a screwcap one. They also rated the wine with the cork as 20% more appropriate for a celebration, and 15% more inciting of a celebratory mood.
Wine experts sometimes criticise the use of cork in sealing bottles due to the occurrence of chemical compound TCA, however in recent years advancements in technology have brought the number of wines affected by the chemical down to between 0.8-1.2%.
Top winemakers across the world are increasingly reverting to cork as their closure of choice, with 7 out of 10 wine bottles now sealed with a natural cork- and this research is the first demonstration that such closures provide more positive drinking experiences.
“The sound and sight of a cork being popped sets our expectations before the wine has even touched our lips, and these expectations then anchor our subsequent tasting experience,” says Spence
“These results emphasise the importance of closures for wine, and the clear association between cork and quality in our subconscious.”
Spence is head of research at the Unilever-funded Crossmodel laboratories at Oxford University, a consultant to a number of multinational food manufacturers, as well as sitting on the scientific advisory board of PepsiCo.