At a bar where the music is so loud you can't hear yourself think? Be mindful of the number of drinks you tip back, as new research suggests that loud environments can make alcohol taste sweeter and impair judgement.
According to a British study out of the University of Portsmouth announced Thursday, the volume of music and noise in a drinking environment could alter the taste of alcohol and have a significant impact on consumption.
In the study, about 80 participants were asked to rate a selection of drinks on the basis of alcohol strength, sweetness and bitterness while subjected to different distractions, including music, listening and repeating a news story, both, or silence.
The study found that drinks were rated significantly sweeter overall when participants were listening to music alone. And when they were exposed to the maximum level of distraction -- music and shadowing the news story -- subjects were less able to detect alcohol strength as the din of noise appeared to impair their judgement.
"Since humans have an innate preference for sweetness, these findings offer a plausible explanation as to why people consume more alcohol in noisy environments," said lead researcher and psychologist Lorenzo Stafford in a statement.
"This was a small-scale study, but it has huge implications for those who drink alcohol in noisy environments. It also has implications for bars, the drinks industry and local authorities."
Meanwhile, a study published this fall in the British Journal of Psychology also found that music can influence how wine tastes.
After examining the taste perceptions of 250 students, researchers found that the wine took on attributes of the style of music that they were listening to.
If you want your Merlot to taste earthy and full-bodied, try savoring it to the tune of Tom Jones, suggests the British Psychological Society. To add a little zing to your Pinot, try some Gaga.
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