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It is well known that the color of a beverage can influence its flavor. We conducted three experiments to investigate the effect of the ambient room color on flavor, while leaving the color of the beverage unaltered. We chose white wine as the beverage and used several methods to fully explore the potential role of ambient light. First, a group of wine buyers made judgments on flavor and global liking while tasting a Riesling on site at a local winery. Ambient color influenced the subjective value of the wine. Wine tasted better in blue or red environments as compared with green and white. A second group was tested in the laboratory. Ambient color modified the taste, but not the odor of the wine. The influence of ambient color on flavor was confirmed in a third experiment using the method of paired comparisons.


It has become fashionable in architecture and interior design to abandon the classical white or pastel colors that have traditionally been used for wall paint. Bright red and orange colors may prevail in a hip hair salon or a bar may have pink illuminated walls. As the private and public places where beverages are consumed change in ambient color, we should expect the taste experience to change as well. Additionally, our data show that the subjective value of the wine and consequently, the amount of money consumers are willing to spend for it can be influenced by ambient color. Thus, the interior design of, for example, a wine bar should take these effects into consideration.