Drinking Wine Stimulates the Brain More than Doing Maths!
With the festive season upon us, the impulse to indulge may seem impossible to quell.
And whilst you may feel guilty savouring that second mince pie, or enjoying another helping of Christmas pudding, sipping sophisticatedly on a glass of wine need no longer be a cause for concern.
Yale neuroscientist, Gordon Shepherd, has given all oenophiles a get-out-of-jail-free card when it comes to justifying the joy of their indulgent pursuit, positing in his book, Neuroenology: How the Brain Creates the Taste of Wine, that wine tasting actually stimulates the brain more than other esteemed activities, such as listening to music or tackling a maths problem.
Shepherd believes that tasting wine “engages more of our brain than any other human behaviour,” and that whilst other ameliorative endeavours (such as solving an equation) require specific sources of knowledge, wine tasting engages us more completely.
Using the basic steps of wine tasting as an example, he reveals: “You don’t just put wine in your mouth and leave it there. You move it about and then swallow it, which is a very complex motor act.”
More impressive still is Shepherd’s explanation –and the central tenet of his argument –that drinking wine requires our brain to create the flavours we perceive and enjoy.
Speaking with US-based media organisation, NPR, Shepherd elaborated: “The analogy one can use is colour. The objects we see don’t have colour themselves, light hits them and bounces off. It’s when light strikes our eyes that it activates systems in the brain that create colour from those different wavelengths. Similarly, the molecules in wine don’t have taste or flavour, but when they stimulate our brains, the brain creates flavour the same way it creates colour.”
Who are we to argue with the science?