Scientists reveal which MUSIC will make your food taste better: The Beatles are perfect for fish and chips… and Pavarotti does wonders to a chocolate mousse

Listening to The Beatles could help to enhance the enjoyment of a fish and chip supper, psychologists have found.

Research suggests that certain types of music can bring out specific flavours – including sweet, salty and bitter – in a range of foods.

The intensity of Nessun Dorma, performed by Luciano Pavarotti, is said to be the perfect accompaniment to dark mouse or coffee. Meanwhile, the high-pitched piano in Billie Holiday’s Autumn in New York can help emphasise the autumnal flavour of a pumpkin pudding.

Listening to the right sort of music, including the Beatles (pictured) can enhance flavours in certain food and drink, researchers have found

Listening to the right sort of music, including the Beatles (pictured) can enhance flavours in certain food and drink, researchers have found

In Ultraviolent restaurant in Shanghai, fish and chips are served up to a backdrop of the Beatles, while in El Celler de Can Roca in Girona, Spain, scented meringue comes with a commentary describing Barcelona footballer Lionel Messi in action, a clip which apparently brings out the citrus flavours in the dessert.

The so-called digital seasoning also applies to wine, helping drinkers to enjoy their tipple by up to 15 per cent more, if served alongside the right music.

Researchers found people enjoyed their wine more while listening to ‘paired’ music, rather than while being sat in silence. Tchaikovsky’s String Quartet No 1 in D Major particularly compliments Chateau Margaux 2004, while Mozart’s Flute Quartet in D Major should be played while drinking Puilly-Fume.

Professor Charles Spence, a behavioral psychologist from Oxford University, told the Observer’s Neil Tweedle that taste is not as dominant as we might think in judging a meal and that our ears might subconsciously talk to our tastebuds.

He said: ‘Music cannot create taste or flavours that are not there in your mouth, but it can draw attention to certain notes in a wine or food that are competing in your mind… It’s kind of digital seasoning.’

Mr Spence added that humans tend to match the same sounds to the same tastes.

He described sourness as ‘high-pitched’, meaning it should be played alongside music of the same quality. He also said sweetness is associated with richer sounds, while bitterness is linked to deeper tones.

He believes the sound associated with salty – which he has not yet pinned down – would be enhanced by a throbbing type of sound.


‘Bitter, sweet, sour – we have those,’ says Professor Charles Spence, ‘But salty is the hardest taste to embody in sound.’

To carry out his research, Mr Spence gives people two pieces of identical chocolate and asks them to each eat one while listening to a different piece of classical music.

While the more sombre music is played, people generally describe the chocolate as more bitter. When they described the chocolate as ‘sweet’, it generally when the more upbeat piece was being played, he said.

Heston Blumenthal, who runs the Fat Duck in Bray, Berkshire, is among restaurateurs who have sought the professor’s advice.

Mr Spence said that, as well as music, colour and even the weight of cutlery are factors which can combine to make a dining experience more enjoyable. Ambient lighting was found to have a positive effect on a person’s enjoyment, with red light bringing out the fruitiness in red wine.

Scientists reveal which MUSIC

Read more: