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The influence of music on the perception of oaked wines – a tasting room case study in the U.S. Finger Lakes Region

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Innovative wine makers and marketers increasingly see the consumers’ multisensory experience in the tasting room as a means of differentiating themselves from the competition. With recent research demonstrating the influence of music on the wine-tasting experience, the present study introduced music as a unique aspect of a VIP tasting room experience at a family-owned Finger Lakes winery. A convenience sample of 46 participants tasted four oaked still wines (2 white, 2 red) in silence and with a complementary soundtrack, and rated the fruitiness, spiciness, and smoothness of each wine in both sound conditions. Undisclosed to the participants, the soundtrack had been designed to bring to mind woody/spiced elements of oak ageing. It was hypothesised that listening to the oak soundtrack would alter the evaluation of the wines to be smoother and spicier. The results revealed that the wines tasted while the soundtrack were playing in the background were rated as significantly fruitier and smoother than the same wines when tasted in silence. These results are discussed in terms of the literature on crossmodal correspondences and the emotional mediation account. Moreover, the positive feedback from the attendees showcases music as a viable component of a multisensory experience when visiting a winery.
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Keywords: Wine marketing; consumer psychology; crossmodal correspondence; music; oak ageing

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Experimental Psychology, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK 2: Dr. Konstantin Frank Winery, Hammondsport, NY, USA 3: Department of Electronic Production and Design, Berklee College of Music, Boston, MA, USA 4: Banfi Professor of Wine Education and Management, School of Hotel Administration, SC Johnson College of Business, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, USA

Publication date: October 2, 2019

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