Could furry wine glasses be the future?

Forget the shape of stemware on a wine drinker’s experience, it’s glass texture that’s the new focus of research, according to Professor Charles Spence, an expert in multisensory perception.

Glass textureSpence, who is a leading experimental psychologist and the director of the Crossmodal Research Laboratory at Oxford University’s Department of Experimental Psychology, told the drinks business this morning that he is currently exploring the impact of different stemware textures on people’s experience of drinks.

“We are playing a lot with texture and feel, for example, glassware manufactured with textured rims or lips,” he said, as well as looking at “things you feel while you are tasting”.

The new emphasis follows extensive work with leading chefs, where Spence has found that touching different fabrics can affect the taste sensations of diners.

Experiments using a range of fabric swatches have been shown to enhance certain traits in dishes, changing the way the food both feels and tastes, according to Spence.

For example, at Heston Blumenthal’s recently re-opened Fat Duck restaurant in Bray, a pudding featuring orange blossom and meringue called Counting Sheep comes with a furry spoon, no doubt to accentuate the fluffy texture of the food.

Professor Spence

Professor Spence

While top mixologist Tony Conigliaro is trialling customised cocktail glasses to influence the experience of his drinks, using the likes of rope wrapped around the glasses’ stems to bring a different sensation to the glass, and ultimately, the cocktail itself.

When it comes to wine, Spence told db, “We are looking at the moment whether the feel of different fabric swatches might affect the language used to describe red wines, so whether we see textural terms, like velvety, and if we can enhance them.”

Taking this further, he said that glasses can be etched or bevelled to alter their texture, although for “simple demonstrations”, Spence said that he’s wrapping various drinking vessels with sand paper to explore the influence of texture on the drinker’s experience.

Although Spence’s research is new, an investigation into the influence of texture on taste is not, and Italian 1930’s futurist Filippo Tommasi Marinetti explored the concept with his “Tactile dinner parties”, where guests would wear pajamas covered in different materials and eat from bowls with textured coverings.

Counting Sheep

The Fat Duck’s ‘Counting Sheep’. Photographer: Richard Vines/Bloomberg

“People were doing this a century ago,” recorded Spence, referring to Marinetti, although he said that today there is a major difference – the food is much better.

“Now we think we can deliver the best products on the plate and in the glass so the focus is on the other sensory cues that can enhance the experience,” he summed up.

Spence will be exploring the influence of light and sound on the wine buying and drinking experience at the International Cool Climate Wine Symposium (ICCWS) in Brighton, England, on 26-28 May this year.

For the full list of speakers click here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Please note that comments are subject to our posting guidelines in accordance with the Defamation Act 2013. Posts containing swear words, discrimination, offensive language and libellous or defamatory comments will not be approved.

Subscribe to our newsletters

Sales Manager

James Eadie Ltd
London, UK

Wine Ambassador Role

Ramón Bilbao UK
London, UK

Fine Wine Logistics Coordinator

IG Wines
London, UK

Sales Manager

Top Selection
London, UK

Assistant Retail Manager

The Whisky Exchange
London, UK

Marketing Manager

Ellis Wines
Hanworth, Middx, GB

Commercial Analyst

ATOM Group
Tunbridge Wells, UK

Customer Service Executive

Marussia Beverages
Marylebone, London, UK

HR Administrator

Amathus Drinks PLC
London, UK

Trade Marketing Manager

Australian Vintage Limited
Croydon, UK

The World Bulk Wine Exhibition

Amsterdam,Netherlands
20th Nov 2017

The Global Spirits Masters Lunch

London,United Kingdom
1st Dec 2017

International Bulk Wine and Spirits Show

London,United Kingdom
26th Feb 2018
Click to view more

Champagne Masters 2017

The only Champagne blind tasting in the UK, the competition will reward the best wines in the following categories:

The Global Rosé Masters 2017

With wines from the palest of pink to almost ruby red, bone dry to almost cloyingly sweet, reductively handled to barrel-aged, as well as gently spritzy to fully sparkling.

Click to view more