Don't Let a Female Fly Fall in Your Drink or She'll Ruin It!

Khryss | Published 2017-12-03 02:13

But what about males?!

Sorry ladies, this ain't girl power. Drosophila melanogaster females releases a pheromone that attract males. Identified and isolated by Peter Witzgall and Paul Becher at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, in Uppsala, they wondered if this somehow affects wine's taste.

To test this, they asked eight experienced wine tasters from the Baden wine region in Germany to participate in their tasty experiment. Researchers asked them to examine various glasses of wine that either 1) had previously contained a female fly for five minutes, 2) had contained a male fly, or 3) had no fly contact at all. They were then asked to rate these, of which all of them classified those first type of glasses to have stronger and more intense smell.

Next, the panel were then given glasses of water and of pinot blanc wine that either, again 1) had previously contained a female fly or 2) had trace amounts of a synthetic version of such female pheromones. They said that 10 nanograms of these synthetic pheromone imitated the funky taste a female fly brought to the drink. But even just 1 nanogram of the pheromone already created “somewhat unpleasant” taste to the wine! (Side note: these females flies releases about 2.4 nanograms of pheromones per hour.)

So, a single female fly falling into your glass of wine may be enough to create an unpleasant smell and taste even if it's removed from the glass quickly! (Ugh, spoiler.) “Putting a few nanograms of the synthesized pheromone into the glass resulted in the same off-flavour as when a fly walked over the glass,” says Becher. “The compound is not only detectable in tiny amounts, it’s also hard to wash off, which means that the smell might even stick to glass after dishwashing.”

Disclaimer: humans can only smell the pheromone--they can't taste it! However, it's known the we heavily rely on our sense of smell when perceiving taste. Perhaps that's why these irritating creatures easily tarnish both our drinks' odor and flavor. “We think it interesting that both flies and humans are highly sensitive to the same compound,” says Becher.

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