The Science Behind How Color Impacts Taste

The five senses influence so much more of your daily life than you may realize. We rely on our sight in order to interpret information from our surroundings. We rely on smell to prevent us from consuming impure foods or nearing too close to dangerous chemicals. Different senses you may not assume are interconnected, with some individuals even being able to smell color or taste sound. According to NPR, this phenomenon is known as synesthesia, which is a neurological condition that affects about one in 27 individuals in some form or another. This condition means that the stimulation of a specific sense in an individual will simultaneously manifest itself in a completely different sense, say, associating sounds with shapes.

While not every individual may experience synesthesia, the five senses are still intertwined on a much larger scale than meets the eye. One common perception you may have heard is that the color of your food could impact its taste (via Konica Minolta).

Color may affect your perception of taste

What happens when we lose the benefit of sight when eating? Our other senses are heightened, including taste, which is what a restaurant in New York City known as Dinners in the Dark relies on as part of their dining experience. According to Grub Street, the owner truly realized how much of an effect color, or lack thereof, affects taste, as she noticed that guests blindly guessed that their corn soup was butternut squash or sweet potato — both coming from an orange palette. 

According to Science Friday, your taste is incredibly impacted by your sight, as are aromas or flavors. For example, wine experts have even been fooled into guessing their favorite alcohol incorrectly when a white wine was spiked with a few drops of red food coloring. This phenomenon is purely psychological, as simply changing the hue won't affect the taste. Still, it can affect an individual's perception of how it tastes due to already present associations with specific colors and flavors, such as pinks and reds with sweetness.

So with all this in mind, it might be time to have some fun with the wine connoisseur in your life, and all you'll need is a glass of white wine and red food coloring.