Wine is music to the palate

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The Independent Online
The battle for sales between French Bordeaux and German Hock is likely to be won more by the vintage of the background music in the off- licence than the quality of the grapes, a team of psychologists has established.

In a test of European harmony never quite passed by the Eurovision song contest, French or German music was played at a wine counter stacked with French and German wines while researchers monitored which nationality of wine people chose.

Far from driving customers to wines from Bulgaria, Spain or Tunisia, it emerged that if traditional German oompah-pah music was played, sales of German wine outnumbered the French by 3.33 to 1. And when the accordion ditties associated with the beret avec string-of-onions stereotype of our closest neighbours was played, French wine sales outnumbered German by 2.75 to 1.

Dr Adrian North of Leicester University, who carried out the experiment, said: "This is a very significant result. We know that human knowledge is categorised so that bits of your brain know certain things. If you hear German music it activates knowledge about Germany and so, faced with French and German wine, you will pick the German."

Customers rarely realised they had been affected by the nationality of the music. Out of 86 people who were later asked why they chose their wine only one linked it to the music.

Dr North said that if you went into a shop with the clear intention of buying one particular wine, background music would have no effect on your decision. But if you had no strong preferences, the music would influence your purchase.