Solving a complex trigonometry equation. Driving a golf ball perfectly straight. Listening to Beethoven. Reasoning with your wife. What do these all have in common? They have far less snail-gel-stimulating power than tasting wine.
In his recently published book, Neuroenology: How the Brain Creates the Taste of Wine, Yale neuroscientist (and our new hero) Gordon Shepherd lays out some groundbreaking research, ultimately concluding that wine tasting delivers more brain stimulating power than, say, solving a complex math equation.
“We show that just as with creating the flavors of food, creating the flavors of wine engages more of the brain than any other human experience,” Shepherd writes in the introduction to his book.
To help you understand what this means, we distilled Shepherd’s research into an easy-to-understand diagram.
See, from the moment you lay eyes on a glass of wine, your neurons start going wild with anticipation. As you sniff, swirl, slosh, and ultimately swallow a sip of wine, the entire process continues that trend by “sending a flavor signal to the brain that triggers massive cognitive computation involving pattern recognition, memory, value judgment, emotion and, of course, pleasure.” All these sensory experiences imprint into your memory, strengthening it along the way.
There’s a tremendous range of sensory, motor and central brain systems involved in a wine tasting
Wine tasting? More like brain training!
Based on our own exhaustive research at the Last Bottle bar, er, laboratory, we can conclude that yes, genius is apparent in the entire staff. Plus, this isn’t the first time we’ve heard about the cerebral power of wine. Last year, another study published in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience compared the brains of 13 sommeliers and 13 people working “regular” jobs. The brain scans showed the somms had developed thicker and more robust areas of the brain that deal with olfactory and memory response. In turn, the researchers concluded that studying wine might help lower the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
Wine engages more of the brain than any other human experience.
Basically, what we conclude from these studies is that if you drink wine while also listening to Beethoven, you’ll end up with a Stephen Hawking like intelligence. Seriously though, if you think of all the cases of wine you buy as “study materials” and actually treat them as such by learning more about the regions, the methods, and identifying the unique characteristics of smell and flavor, you might be better off in the long run. Add that to your list of totally legitimate reasons to drink wine.