How can individual wines be represented through the visual? This is one way of framing the project I am working on, but perhaps more importantly a way of framing a gap in knowledge for the project.
There are various ways that winemakers use visual cues to convey information about the product inside the bottle. Some of the ones I can think of include the shape of the bottle, label aesthetics, the price point, or the complementary description on the wine label.
Further, the label might spark some contextual information of the wine such as knowledge of the grape variety, the style of the winemaker or the region. But this contextual information is reserved for connoisseurs, and will not necessarily affect the general consumer.
Beyond these visual cues, there is rarely much given away about the subtle sensory qualities of the wine from just looking at the bottle.
Once the wine is poured there is a range of visual properties that carry information (most of which I am personally blind to). Held in a clear glass, a taster could gather information on the wine based on its brilliance, intensity, hue and depth of colour, the transparency, viscosity, and legs of the wine. These visual characteristics are still not really concrete indicators of a wine’s flavour.
Translating one sensory experience (taste) into another (sight) is clumsy, and fraught with challenges and impossibilities, because everyone tastes differently. And this is only the beginning of why this goal is so unachievable. But if some component of it can be achieved it could create more complete, complementary, congruent, harmonious experiences, possibly amplifying the taster’s ability to experience more fully. Just like when the perfect song comes onto the radio and completely matches a specific moment, both the song and the moment are expanded and improved by the match.
If a visual image can be developed to match a wine, perhaps some of those subtleties within wine that I have been hearing about can come alive to the non-connoisseur. And then also we could have an image that represents what is in the bottle, a visual embodiment of flavour, not just what the winemaker wants us to feel through their style of branding.
Image: data showing the recurrence of colour associations in six wines