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Songs of Champagne

How sound and music enhance every sip.
As you take your first step onto your private jet, you’re full of anticipation for the journey ahead. Perhaps you’re only travelling a short distance for business, or taking a longer trip for leisure. Whatever your reason for flying, this time is all about you, and offers the perfect opportunity to unwind with a glass of the finest Champagne.You open the bottle, relishing in the satisfying pop and the luxurious sound of the wine flowing into the cool glass. What is it about that sound that stirs something inside you?

The first sip is heavenly.

As you climb higher and higher, you’re calmed by the low whir of the engine –it’s quieter than any other flight you’ve been on –but forthis Champagne, you feel like some music while you sip. Maybe you should put on some relaxing classical, or upbeat jazz –yes, today you’re in the mood for jazz trumpet, with Dizzy Gillespie your artist of choice. Again, the melodies around you are makingthis experience even more indulgent –but why?

As you listen to the high-pitched sounds of jazz flute, you notice your Champagne takes on a sweeter taste. The pace of the music quickens, the flute giving way to the deeper, brassy tones of the trombone. With that, your Champagne, still delicious, tastes sharper –more acidic, even.

May, 2014. Charles Spence, professor of experimental psychology at Oxford University, is handing out glasses of wine to participants in an experiment designed to test whether sounds varying in pitch affect how we experience flavour. The participants move through the lab, sipping from their glasses and taking in the range of specially selected sounds and colours.
Afterwards, they report that sweeter flavours are mostly experienced alongside higher-pitched sounds as well as piano melodies and smooth, flowing legato music. Meanwhile, very high-pitched sounds and fast tempos are associated with sour flavours, and lower-pitched, brassy notes with bitterness.

These findings echo Spence’s work from a year earlier, where he identified that specific pieces of classical music influenced participants’ experience of fine wine. Interestingly, white wine was enjoyed more alongside Mozart’s Flute Quartet in D, while a glass of red was a good match for Tchaikovsky’s String Quartet No 1 in D major. For both varieties, listening to the appropriate music enhanced participants’ overall enjoyment.

But Charles Spence is not the only academic to ponder over the connection between sound and taste. In 2014, Professor Barry Smith, co-director of the Centre for the Study of the Senses at University of London, spoke to Women’s Health UK about how noise –specifically on aeroplanes –can manipulate our taste buds.‘White noise diminishes our ability to discriminate basic tastes such as sweet and sour,’ he said. ‘High-pitched sounds, meanwhile, make things taste sweeter, lower drones (like the hum of a Boeing engine) accentuate bitterness, so things taste more bitter in the air.’

It seems to be the case, then, that sound can indeed alter our experience of flavour, but with the restful silence on-board your Bombardier Global 6000 jet, the quietest in its class, there’s nothing to worry about when it comes to the taste of your Champagne.flavour, but with the restful silence on-board your Bombardier Global 6000 jet, the quietest in its class, there’s nothing to worry about when it comes to the taste of your Champagne.

As you recline further, the only noise you can hear is that sweet jazz flute, your in-flight attendant offering you a canapé, and the sound of bubbles fizzing away gently.

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