When it comes to alcohol, the stronger, the better, right?
Maybe not: According to a new study, the majority of wine drinkers actually prefer weaker varieties.
The study, conducted at the Basque Center of Cognition, Brain and Language in Spain, had volunteers sample red wines while connected to an MRI machine designed to measure brain activity.
Scans revealed the flavor processing regions of the brain (specifically the insula and the cerebellum) were most active when the volunteers sampled vino with a low-alcohol content.
On the contrary, when sampling more alcoholic wines, activity in these regions was minimal.
These findings suggest the brain registers the multifaceted flavors of weaker wines better than those of stronger wines. Thus, weaker wines are more enjoyable to drinkers than their high-alcohol content counterparts.
Interestingly, though, over the past 30 years, alcohol content in wine has continually grown because winemakers think that's what customers want.
Wine critics have long criticized this so-called “New World” approach to winemaking, arguing that “these [stronger] wines often lack finesse,” according to the study's authors.
They maintain that old-world wine, such as those from France and Spain, remain far more refined than those from newer wine-producing regions in Australia and California. The increased alcohol, they say, also masks the more discreet smells and tastes.
The authors conclude,
So whether you're a red wine drinker or a white wine drinker, next time you pick up a bottle of your favorite vino, go against your gut and spring for the least alcoholic variety.
Your taste buds (and your non-hungover brain) will thank you for it.