Want to put your mind to the test? Have a glass of wine.
No, seriously. It might be time to put down the crossword and open a bottle, because it turns out that drinking wine actually makes your brain work extremely hard, according to a new book by Gordon Shepherd, a neurologist from Yale School of Medicine.
What he’s apparently discovered is that molecules found in wine don’t have any taste or flavour; instead, they actually stimulate our brain to create flavours the same way our brain works to create colours.
Now the grape and alcohol flavour we all commonly taste will always stay the same, but it’s those molecules that allow us to experience different flavours. In an interview with NPR, Shepherd admits that if two people share a bottle of wine, 90 per cent of the time they will both taste the same flavours, but 10 per cent of time it will be different. But to Shepherd, that 10 per cent is what makes drinking “part of the pleasure of wine.”
From the moment you stick your nose in the glass and give it a good whiff to when you swirl it around in your mouth, your brain begins to trigger all of these different senses in your head and it takes an “exquisite control of one of the biggest muscles in the body” to do so, according to Shepherd’s new book.
According to The Times, both swirling it in your mouth and breathing through your nose and mouth will allow your brain to fully create these flavours.
When speaking with NPR, he explained this as being a “hidden force” in wine tasting. According to Shepherd, the way we detect these flavours is through internal smelling, which is also called “retronasal.” The way it works is when we drink wine, “the molecules are carried to the same receptor cells in the nose, but from the opposite direction.”
He continued by saying that our saliva also plays a big part in recognizing the different flavours. Shepherd explains that our saliva “both dilutes the wine and interacts with it.” The enzymes in our saliva “break down the molecules in the wine to create compounds” that were “not originally in the wine,” according to Shepherd.
He does warn, however, that taking too large of a sip can saturate your system and won’t give your brain the experience it wants. So try and do your best to take some moderate sips next time it could be worth it.