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Music sweetens alcohol notes

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15th Dec 2011
Danny Rose   all articles by this author
Loud music appears to make alcohol taste sweeter.

PONDER this if the Christmas or New Year party gets rowdy – loud music appears to make alcohol taste sweeter.

It also can make it more difficult for drinkers to judge how much they are consuming, according to UK-based research.

The University of Portsmouth study involved 80 regular drinkers aged 18–28 who had to rate a selection of drinks varying in alcohol content for their strength, sweetness and bitterness.

Participants were given one of four different levels of distraction, from no distraction to loud club-type music playing at the same time as reading a news report.

"Sweetness perception of alcohol was significantly higher in the music [alone] compared to control and other distracting conditions, which is a novel finding and to our knowledge, not seen previously," the authors said.

"This is an interesting finding as we might have expected the music, in addition to repeating a news story, to exert a more distracting effect on taste judgment.

“It appears that our primary sense of taste is somewhat immune to very distracting conditions, but is indeed influenced by music alone.”

The drinkers who listened to music also had “poorer discrimination” between weaker and stronger drinks, and this could have “serious consequences to individuals in noisy drinking environments”.

J Food Qual 2011; in press

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