The May issue of The Psychologist has a freely available cover article on wine which takes a suitably meandering route through the history and psychology of the fermented grape.
It’s full of fascinating facts from times past mixed in with recent findings from research studies.
I particularly liked this section, which starts with an ancient Persian decision-making technique (still widely used during weekends in London) and goes on to look at the influence of music on wine purchasing:
Many psychoactive substances have been associated with creativity, and ancient Persians are reported to have used wine to facilitate decision making. An issue would be explored whilst intoxicated and, the next day, the conclusions that stood up to sober scrutiny were adopted.
Some psychologists have demonstrated associations between music played in retail outlets and subsequent wine purchases. Playing classical or pop music does not influence the amount of wine purchased but appears to influence the average price of bottles selected, with classical music leading to sales of more expensive wines (Areni & Kim, 1993). It also appears that playing French or German music influences selections, with more purchases of wines from the same origin as the music (North et al., 1999).
There’s also plenty more ammunition in the article for anyone wanting to convince themselves that wine snobbery is bunk. For example, adding red food colouring to white wine is enough to convince wine masters that they can ‘nose’ red wine scents.
Unfortunately, the article on the webpage is almost impossible to read because of the broken formatting, so I suggest just reading it straight from the pdf.
Full disclosure: I’m an unpaid associate editor of The Psychologist but am ignorant about wine!