Monday, 7 January 2008

Love Is In The Air

Why does wine make us feel romantic? According to research in the USA has suggested that the pheromones in certain grape varieties are remarkably similar to human sex pheromones.

All those smells you get in the red grape - spices, earth, musk and the slightly feral, barnyard notes - are very similar smells to those associated with the principal male smell, androstenone. Truffles and the sort of oaky smells in so much wine fermented or matured in new oak barrels are similarly androstenone-like.

But whilst androstenone is the key male smell the key female smells are thiethylamine and isovaleric acid according to the seminal work conducted on human olfaction by American doctor, the appropriately surnamed John Amoore. Australia's wine-making doctor, Max Lake, has suggested that isovaleric acid can be simulated in sparkling wine - and Champagne in particular.

I wonder if this is why red wine is sterotypically drunk by men and white by women? Are we subconciously using the wine to emphasise our sexuality? Incidentally, rresearchers at Glasgow University have discovered that if you consume two glasses of wine, members of the opposite sex appear more attractive by about 25%.

It’s interesting that we also describe wines in a sensuous manner - what other drink is described as "voluptuous" and "curvaceous"? Naughty Frenchmen say the sturdy shape of a Bordeaux bottle reminds them of their wives, but the curvilinear Burgundy bottles conjure up their mistresses.

Most women find gifts of wine romantic. A research firm in North America found that 59% of women ages 21-39 wish their sweethearts would give them wine, not chocolates, on Valentine's Day. And a leading London paper reported that wine tastings rank above all other venues for finding a date. The reason? Wine means spending time together.

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