In honor of National Beer Drinking Day, and just because it’s Friday, we wanted to explore the art of brew making. How do people find inspiration for their popular brews? If an establishment serves food and microbrews, does the beer frame the food, or does the food frame the beer?
Sometimes, like with local brewery Four Peaks, the beer is the main event. While the food at Four Peaks is fabulous, the menu doesn’t change on a seasonal basis. The beer, on the other hand, evolves with the seasons, ranging from Pumpkin Porter and Winter Wobbler, to Blind Date Ale and Fools Gold.
In other cases, the beer is meant to frame the food. David Burke just teamed up again with Sam Adams to create BBQ Peach. Burke is a culinary expert with six restaurants in the New England Area and Chicago. Introducing BBQ Peach is an embellishment on the food, with Burke stating it will be “perfect with Chinese Sausage”.
Not everyone is a wine expert, and sometimes we need a little help in choosing a bottle. Do we ask for help? Occasionally, but usually we just look at the label and find one that looks best, or sends a message we respond to.
Wineries are constantly looking for ways to stand out. Most people buying wine aren’t at a winery – they’re in a grocery or liquor store. Selling a bottle before someone has tasted it is not easy. This places a lot of pressure on the wine label. The design needs to grab the attention of the buyer, convey certain vital information about the wine (type, red or white, grape varietal, region of origin, surgeon general warning, health information, etc.), and tell a story that aligns with the experience the buyer is trying to create. The experience created arrives from sensory design, which is design that evokes an intuitive response by engaging one or more of the senses.
Modern wine labels are designed to stand out. A perfect example is Fat Bastard, a wine from Southern France that uses its unique name and a sitting hippopotamus to play to the idea from their website that “most people bought a bottle because of the name and returned to buy cases because of the quality.” This technique has worked very well for Fat Bastard, which is now the best-selling French Chardonnay in the United States.
This doesn’t mean that all wineries should rename their wine and put an unexpected animal on the label. The wine label must align with the brand and positioning of the producer. The label may have a traditional French chateau, indicating the region where the grapes were harvested. Or it may have images of the family that created the wine, with the different generations of family members indicating the maturity and age.
Next time you’re choosing a bottle of wine, maybe you’ll notice that the label has a bit more influence on you than expected. Or have you already noticed? We’d love to hear about you favorite label!
Tasting wine is a truly sensory experience. From the moment the cork comes out of the bottle with a faint “pop,” to actually drinking and tasting the wine, all the senses are engaged.
First, you hear
Once you’ve chosen your bottle of wine and you’re ready to enjoy it, it’s time to open it! The first sense is stimulated – your hearing. Your sense of hearing is continually stimulated as the wine is poured into the glass.
Second, you touch
The wine glass influences the temperature, bouquet, taste, balance, and finish of the wine. There are many different types of glasses, but generally glasses with smaller bowls are for white wines, larger bowls are for red wines, and flutes are for sparkling wine and champagne. Riedel is a company known for their extensive collection of wine glasses and the science behind each design.
Then, you see
The third step to wine tasting is checking the color and clarity of your wine. It is easiest to distinguish color on a white background. When you are determining color, look past just red and white, because a closer look can enable you to gauge the grape and age of the wine. Red wines tend to lighten as they age, whereas white wines become darker in color.
When tasting, you can also look at the “legs” or as the French say, the “tears” of the wine. When you swirl your wine in your glass, the rate at which the legs fall is a result of the Marangoni Effect, and can help determine alcohol content of the wine.
Next, you smell
When you smell your wine, you first take a quick whiff and gain a first impression of the wine. Next, put your nose into the glass and take a deep breath. You may smell oak, berry, tobacco, pepper, vanilla, or many other scents. Then swirl the wine again, and sniff. You may identify more scents than you did the first time!
Don’t underestimate the power of smell, because what you smell greatly influences what you taste. A master sommelier once said, “You can only taste 5 things – bitter, sweet, sour, salty, and umami – but the number of things you can smell is endless.”
And finally, taste
First, take a small sip and swirl it in your mouth. Different areas on the tongue are sensitive to different types of taste, and incorporating them all enables you to experience the full taste of the wine. After the first impression, your palate gets the chance to distinguish the taste. Finally, after you swallow the wine you are left with the finish. This is the lasting impression the wine has in your mouth, the taste you continue to experience even after the wine is gone.
We hope you enjoyed this break down of the senses and wine tasting, and we’d love to know your thoughts and comments! If you liked this, there will be more, we will be writing soon on how label design and brand image influence your purchasing decision and maybe even how you perceive the taste and quality of the wine. CNN also has added a great addition to their Eatocracy blog- a series called Leggy and Luscious that’s all about wine tasting and experience.
Special thanks to John Banquil, Regional General Manager at Ling and Louie’s Asian Bar and Grill for his input and help writing this article!
Brand Sense by Martin Lindstrom is a must read for the progressive marketer. Lindstrom focuses on the immense power the five senses have in influencing how consumers feel about brands. He analyzes how the most successful brands today, like Apple and Coca-Cola use sensory branding to entice consumers and create a community of raving fans.
Lindstrom delves into the psychology behind consumer preferences and translates the science into something readable, giving examples of brands that incorporate scent, sound, touch, taste, and sight into their brand experience. This multi-sensory encounter makes the brand more memorable, and increases brand loyalty.
Lindstrom’s other works include Buyology, Brand Child, Brand Building, and Clicks, Bricks & Brands.
If you’re interested in reading Brand Sense, click here to order!
The famous Coke vs. Pepsi taste wars were a great way to prove that a brand image can impact the taste of something. Did you know when a blind taste test occurred (meaning the participant was not told which beverage Coke or which was Pepsi) the results were split? Just as many people favored Coke as favored Pepsi. When the participants were told which product they were drinking, the results changed dramatically. Coke was much preferred over Pepsi, with two-thirds of people favoring Coke, and only 1/3 favoring Pepsi.
What causes this gap? It is due to the solid reputation Coke has cultivated over the course of 100 plus years, reinforced through advertising and marketing that portrays a happy, comforting, and positive message. When a person knows they are drinking Coke, these marketing messages have insinuated themselves into the human nervous system so deeply, they actually influence a persons taste preferences!
Coke’s positive message is solidified by its appeal to the senses through marketing. The music they use in their commercials, like “I’d like to buy the world a Coke” the feel of the Coca-Cola bottle, and the emotion their marketing messages display, like the journey through a vending machine in the 2006 Super Bowl ad. Even the guerrilla marketing campaigns Coke engages in, as shown in this video. These marketing messages have helped uphold the brand image of Coca-Cola. The beverage has benefited by maintaining a leading position in the soft-drink market through the sensory marketing materials used.
Which do you prefer- Coke or Pepsi?