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SA winemaker launches world’s first ‘neurowine’

South African winemaker Pieter Walser is to launch a wine that has used unconscious emotional and cognitive responses to determine the final wine style.

Pieter Walser of Blank Bottle has used EEG and biometric data to produce two new cuvees which will be available to buy in South Africa from May (Photo: Blank Bottle)

Maverick Cape winemaker Walser, whose Blank Bottle brand includes around 30 different cuvées, partnered with a neuromarketing consultancy which used electroencephalography (EEG) and biometric data to determine the style in which two new cuvées – one white, one red – would be made.

In a laboratory, neuromarketing consultancy Neural Sense connected Walser to an EEG monitor – a device which records electrical impulses to reveal types of brain activity – and measured the winemaker’s emotional and cognitive responses to 21 different white wine and 20 different red wine varieties from vineyards across South Africa.

Each taste testing experience generated data which Walser then used to create the “world’s first” NeuroWine, Metros Magazine reported.

“Back in our laboratory we built a model of Walser’s brain activity with Dr Lester Ryan John, and together with the other biometric data we were able to uncover his unconscious responses to the wine tasting experience,” Dr David Rosenstein from Neural Sense said.

“This model enabled us to determine what were the best performing aspects of the various varietals he was tasting and identify the top wine varietals that his unconscious appealed to, together with his subjective reporting, to form the NeuroWine blends as our ultimate goal.”

Walser explained that he has difficulty when vinifying because of his preconceptions of how the wine should taste.

“I make about a total combination of 27 different varietals. I look at soil, climate and topography, and then I look at whatever grows best at each specific site,” Walser said.

“The day I pick, I taste the grapes and decide more or less what the wine’s going to be like, but it then goes through different phases during the winemaking process so by the time I need to bottle – which is fairly soon – I can become confused. However, this neuromarketing approach has allowed my subconscious, and not my conscious, to do the talking.”

Mark Drummond of Neural Sense said such neuroscientific techniques helped to identify the underlying emotional drivers guiding decision-making, and could be helpful both consumers and winemakers.

“Our job as neuroscientists and neuromarketers is to build an understanding of how people experience things and that could be the taste of a wine or it could even be the experience of looking at a wine label or bottle shape,” he said.

“Using neuromarketing techniques and technologies we are able to explore the subconscious and the underlying emotional drivers that drive decision-making. This allows us to see into the hearts and minds of consumers, or winemakers in this case, giving us new insight into their experiences which can then be optimised.”

NeuroWine will be launched in South Africa this month. Walser’s UK importer, Swig Wines, said there were considering importing the wine into the UK.

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