Read this in the Guardian. Now as you know I looove my wine so this had me thinking… – Ned
A company is trying to shake up the wine industry by producing bright blue bottles of the boozy beverage. But will it help the taste?
Blueness and alcohol aren’t strangers, as anyone who has drunk one too many gins and wept into their lap on the night bus will know. But last week, a Spanish company decided to make that link a tad less metaphorical by launching a wine that is the same shade as the WKD Blue alcopop.
The “world’s first blue wine”, Gïk Live, is the brainchild of six young entrepreneurs with no previous experience of the wine trade, who are attempting to “shake things up” in what they call “the most traditional and close-minded industry out there”. They take a wine “base” that mixes red and white grapes, and add two organic pigments, one of which, anthocyanin, is found in grape skin. Then, hey presto: you’ve got an alcoholic drink that wouldn’t look out of place at a student union happy hour.
Gïk Live’s creators say there is some psychology behind what they’re doing. (And not just such a desire to be anti-establishment that they’ve called their tasting notes an “anti-tasting sheet”.) The reason that they’ve opted to colour their beverage a light shade of Harpic Toilet Duck is because: “In psychology, blue represents movement, innovation and infinity” and “is frequently associated with flow and change.”
So by drinking a beverage that is a light shade of Toilet Duck, you will presumably be more psychologically open to enjoying new experiences and will find your mind opening up to a world-changing way to drink wine. Unless you ask a psychologist.
“People have an expectation of the way drinks will taste based on their colour,” says Charles Spence, professor of experimental psychology at Somerville College, Oxford – an expert in the multisensory perception of food who has collaborated with Heston Blumenthal, such as on Blumenthal’s Sound of the Sea dish. “They might expect a blue drink to taste of raspberry or blue curaçao or even mouthwash. If you don’t get the taste you’re expecting, it can be disconcerting.”
But what about the element of surprise? After all, when you see a blue drink, you’re not thinking: “Ooh, I bet that’s got a lovely buttery mouthfeel.” If it tastes nicer than you’d anticipated, surely it could enhance the experience?
“If you get something that’s a little bit better than you expected, that’s a good thing,” explains Spence. “But if it’s very different, more often than not your brain goes: “Have I been poisoned? What’s gone wrong in my head?”
Gïk Live isn’t the only blue-coloured alcohol to launch recently in the UK. In 2014, The London No 1 launched a range of blue gin. And it’s part of a growing trend to turn our foodstuffs into the shades you’d find in a packet of kids’ crayons, given the recent popularity of rainbow bagels and cheese toasties, the shade of which also looks as if it was dreamed up by a five-year-old. Given the column inches devoted to what, essentially, seem to be little more than marketing gimmicks, lurid food and drink is something we are likely to see more of.
“Actually, it’s not a new phenomenon,” offers Spence. “The Italian futurist art movement would serve blue wine to guests at their dinners in the 1930s.”
Ah, so it’s not a fad. It’s a traditional and long-established way to render foodstuffs more enjoyable. A spot of culinary wizardry with more than 80 years worth of research into how to tantalise people’s tastebuds.
“Well, no: they were doing it to shock people into an altered state of consciousness. It wasn’t meant to taste good.”
Even if the makers’ marketing claims may be psychologically flawed, at least there’s one advantage. It should be very easy to enjoy this wine until you’re blue in the face.