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Crossmodal correspondence between color, shapes, and wine odors

Heatherly, Michelle, Dein, Melissa, Munafo, John P., Luckett, Curtis R.
Food quality and preference 2019 v.71 pp. 395-405
Citrus, color, food packaging, odors, vegetables, wines
Crossmodal correspondence is of scientific and commercial interest in regard to the packaging of food and beverages. Research has shown that colors and shapes can be associated with certain aromas, but these interactions have been less extensively studied with authentic visual stimuli (i.e., packaging), or with complex food odors in a matrix. This study investigated odor-color-shape crossmodal interactions with complex odor stimuli (wine odors) and wine labels. The present research used projective mapping with 3D shapes and colors, along with a wine label matching study, to test whether chardonnay odors of different character (buttery, citrus, floral, smoky, and vegetable) were associated with certain colors and shapes. In the projective mapping experiment, most chardonnay odors were grouped similarly; however, the vegetable-forward wine was more associated with sharper shapes. In the label experiment, yellow labels tended to be better matched with all odors, except the vegetable-forward wine, which was matched equally to all colors. These findings indicate that, regardless of odor character, chardonnay is mostly associated with a yellow colored label. Interestingly, results also indicated that not all correspondences aligned with the most common color association of an odor character’s (i.e., vegetative was not strictly associated with green, nor smoky with brown, etc.). Significant correlations were found between stimuli liking and matching scores, speaking to the role of hedonics in correspondences. Overall, the present research demonstrates evidence for odor-color-shape correspondences in complex odors and realistic visual stimuli, but not as strongly as in controlled environments and simplistic stimuli.