How Does Vision Affect Taste?

Vision begins affecting taste shortly after birth, as certain colors and textures become associated with good or bad food. This explains why green eggs and blue ham are unappetizing to most people.

Many experiments have confirmed this phenomenon. In one experiment, white wine was dyed red with odorless dye. Wine experts were asked to describe its taste, and they described it as if it were a red wine.

The term “flavor” more accurately describes what people experience as taste. Taste is only one component of flavor. Smell and sight affect taste more than actual taste. What the taste buds sense combines with sight, smell and touch to create a single sensation.

Tongue and roof-of-the-mouth cells recognize flavors that are sweet, sour, salty, bitter, savory and fatty. Eating and sipping activates nontaste cells and enables perception of temperature, spiciness, crunchiness or creaminess.

In essence, what looks good tastes good. Even the person who serves food influences its taste. Steaks cooked by a charismatic cowboy tend to taste better than steaks cooked by a kindly grandmother. Childhood memories influence taste as well. For example, imitation maple syrup may taste more like the real thing if that’s what a person grew up with.