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How Does Sight and Smell Affect the Taste for Foods?

Surprisingly, sight and smell can affect our desire to taste a meal or drink without us even realizing it. In fact, science has proven this very fact. For example, participants in one study were asked to describe a glass of wine they were given.

Thinking it was red wine, the people said it tastes like red wine. However, it was actually just white wine dyed red. It showed that our eyes and sense of smell can greatly impact whether we'll like certain things. Below you'll find some information about how this actually works and how it determines whether we'll desire to eat or drink certain things. 

how does sight and smell affect the taste for foods

How Our Mind Tricks Us

The main culprit behind how we predetermine whether we might like something or not is our brain. When we look at a certain drink or dish we tend to start guessing its flavor based on nothing else except how it looks or even smells. As the saying goes, we "eat with our eyes" and we do. 

When we see a food or drink that we've never tried before our mind starts to guess what it will be like based on dishes or drinks that look similar to it. This ends up causing our taste buds to start trying to recognize a possible flavor and if we think we'll like eating or drinking it. Common perceptions include things like: 

  • Sweet
  • Sour
  • Bitter
  • Acidic
  • Salty
  • Stale

Smelling something instantly activates our tongue to have a guessing game of whether we might like that specific thing or not. If you've smelled strong ingredients like lemons or vanilla before, you often don't have to actually have to eat them to get an idea of what their flavor will be. 

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The Importance of Plating

Because our eyes play such a huge impact regarding our diet, you'll find that restaurants tend to display wine and plate ingredients in an appetizing way. If something is poorly plated, it doesn't always look that appealing even if it might be a great meal. This is why colors and unique designs are heavily used when displaying dishes. 

As the wine experiment mentioned above showed, our eyes play a huge role in determining whether or not we think we'll like something. If you've been to a wine tasting event you'll often find that you're required to use all of your senses to determine if you'll enjoy that glass which can be very helpful rather than just relying on your palate alone. 

Don't let your eyes and nose fool you, many edible objects that might look or smell unappetizing can end up being very fulfilling. Using all of your senses can help prevent you from skipping out on something that might actually be very tasty. However, it goes to show that displaying meals and drinks nicely can make them seem to be much more appealing and "tasted" even before anyone actually consumes them. 

For more information, please refer to the following pages:

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