You Can Judge a Drink By Its Cover

The taste of bottled mineral water depends its journey through different rocks and minerals. And while taste matters, so too does touch, according to a study by Maureen Morrin, a professor of marketing at the Rutgers School of Business. Studying the responses of 1,000 men and women, she found that people would rate the taste of the water according to the container holding it. When served in a firm cup, people would find it more tasty, compared to a flimsy one.

This isn’t the first study that has linked taste to another sense. In March 2008, a study in the Journal of Consumer Research found that color shaped people’s perceptions of taste. Given two cups of the same Tropicana orange juice, one darkened with food coloring, people would make taste distinctions that did not exist. In contrast, they were less likely to notice real taste distinctions – such as more sugar – when the drinks were the same colour. Memory matters too, according to studies. In blind taste tests between Pepsi and Coke – published in the October 2004 edition of Neuron – people’s perceptions of taste would depend on whether they knew what brand they were drinking. Price too has been found to influence taste. According to research from the California Institute of Technology, people rated the same bottle of wine more tasty when told it was $90 rather than $10.

Taste, like beauty, seems to be in the eye of the beholder.