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Even the Scent of Alcohol Can Lower Your Inhibitions

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It’s well established that drinking alcohol can make it harder to control your behavior. But what if you just sniff it? Apparently that has an effect, too. Researchers say people who sniffed alcohol scored lower on an impulse-control test than people who inhaled a citrus smell.

The study, published in the journal Psychopharmacology, was designed to find out how the sight and smell of alcohol might affect drinkers’ brains even before they start drinking—or trying not to drink. Psychologists recruited 40 self-described social drinkers (21 female and 19 male) between the ages of 19 and 48. Each person then got a little mask soaked in solution. Half of the masks were soaked in a vodka solution, while the other half were doused in a citrus oil solution.

While wearing their masks, the participants played a computer game called a go/no-go association test (GNAT), which measures implicit social cognition, or our unconscious responses (which may be socially learned). Once again, there were two groups, but each group contained half alcohol-sniffers and half citrus-sniffers. Participants in the neutral group were quickly shown letters of the alphabet and told to push the button when they saw the letter K. People in the experimental group had to look for a beer bottle amid 25 different water bottle photos.

The object of the game was to press the button only when the letter K or the beer bottle appeared; in other words, it was a test to see how well the participants could control their impulse to hit the button (the "go/no-go" factor). 

They found that people looking for the beer bottle were better at restraining themselves than those looking for the letter K. But the participants with alcohol-soaked masks had significantly lower impulse control than those breathing a citrusy scent. 

If just the smell of booze is enough to lower our inhibitions, the researchers say, it’s not a huge surprise that people find it so hard to quit drinking. This was a small study, but it represents an important direction in alcohol and substance abuse research, the researchers say.

"This research is a first attempt to explore other triggers, such as smell, that may interfere with people's ability to refrain from a particular behavior,” co-author Rebecca Monk said in a press statement. "For example, during the experiment, it seemed that just the smell of alcohol was making it harder for participants to control their behavior to stop pressing a button.”

Her co-author Derek Heim added that studies like this will lead to better evidence-based programs to help people break problematic habits. "Our hope is that by increasing our understanding of how context shapes substance-use behaviors, we will be able to make interventions more sensitive to the different situations in which people consume substances." 

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Alexa Can Now Help You Find a Wine Pairing
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Even if you enjoy wine regularly, you may not know exactly how you’re supposed to pair it with food. But you don’t have to be a sommelier to put together a good pairing at home. According to Lifehacker, you can just ask Alexa.

An Alexa skill called Wine Finder is designed to help you figure out which wine varietal would go best with whatever food you’re planning to eat. You just have to ask, “What wine goes well with … ”

Created by an app developer called Bloop Entertainment, the Amazon Echo skill features a database with 500 wine pairings. And not all of them are designed for someone working their way through Mastering the Art of French Cooking. The skill will also help you find the proper pairing for your more casual snacks. In one demo, the skill recommends pairing nachos with a Sauvignon blanc or Zinfandel. (Note that the latter also goes well with Frito pie.)

You can also ask it to find you the perfect wine to drink with apple pie and pizza, in addition to the meats, cheeses, and other wine-pairing staples you might expect. However, if you ask it what to pair with hot dogs, it says “water,” which is an affront to hot dog connoisseurs everywhere.

There are a few other wine-pairing skills available for Alexa, including Wine Pairings, Wine Pairings (two different skills), and Wine Expert. But according to user reviews, Wine Finder is the standout, offering more and higher-quality suggestions than some of the other sommelier apps.

It’s free to enable here, so drink up.

[h/t Lifehacker]

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Richard Brendon
This $56 Glass Is Perfectly Suited to All Styles of Wine
Richard Brendon
Richard Brendon

People who take their wine seriously tend to own different glasses for different types of wine. Decor website Home Stratosphere, for instance, identified 18 wine glasses—each shaped differently to complement the unique flavors and fragrances of a Bordeaux, a Burgundy, and other kinds of red, white, and dessert wines.

If you don’t want to spare the expense or the cupboard space for all those glasses, you may want to check out Richard Brendon’s $56 wine glass, which is said to be suited to all types of wine. As spotted by Fast Company, the “1 Wine Glass” is the result of a collaboration between Brendon, a London-based product designer, and wine critic Jancis Robinson.

Robinson said that when Brendon asked her to help design a range of wine glasses, she was “insistent” that they design one single glass. “I love white wine as much as red and have never understood why white wine glasses are routinely smaller than those designed for red wine,” Robinson said in a statement, adding that white wines can be just as complex as reds. “It just seems so obvious and sensible to have one single wine glass for all three colors of wine—especially when so many of us are short of storage space.”

To get it just right, they toiled with the thinness of the glass, the length of the stem, the curvature, the opening, and the overall practicality (Robinson said it had to be dishwasher safe, and indeed, the finished result is). The result is a 125ml handcrafted glass that can be used for all types of wine, including champagne, port, and sherry. The duo also designed a stemless water glass and two decanters. The items can be purchased on Richard Brendon's website.

[h/t Fast Company]

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