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Fine as North Dakota Wine: Sensory Expectations and the Intake of Companion Foods

Wansink, Brian, Collin R. Payne, and Jill North (2007). Fine as North Dakota Wine: Sensory Expectations and the Intake of Companion Foods. Physiology and Behavior, 90(5), 712-16. doi: 10.1016.j.physbeh.2006.12.10

Taste expectations can dramatically bias sensory evaluations, but can environmental cues that influence taste expectations also impact taste expectations towards companion foods? We tested this hypothesis by manipulating taste expectations of a wine to see if consumers' taste expectations for accompanying foods were altered. First, we surveyed 49 graduate students at a wine and cheese reception. Half of the students were presented with wine with a label indicating it was from California.

The rest of the students were presented with the same wine, but with a label indicating it was from North Dakota. We found that those who believed their wine was from California perceived the taste of both the wine and the cheeses as better. In a second study, 39 patrons attending a prix–fixed dinner at a university–affiliated restaurant were given a complimentary glass of either North Dakota–labeled or California–labeled wine with their meal. The amount of food and wine patrons leftover was measured. Those whose wine was labeled from California consumed 12% more of their entrée and consumed a greater weight of wine and entrée combined compared to those served North Dakota–labeled wine. We conclude that not only does taste expectation influence one's taste ratings of accompanying foods, but that it also influences consumption of accompanying foods. Environmental cues affect expectation and consumption, and cues of quality should be used to manipulate ones's expectations and intake behaviors.

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