How susceptible are we to environmental influences when it comes to how salty our cheese seems or how fruity our wine tastes? According to this infographic, much more than I would have guessed.

I already knew that practicing rituals before dinner can make the meal more enjoyable or singing "Happy Birthday" before eating cake can make the cake taste better. I didn't know a lot of the other insights about how decor, colors, lighting, music and more can alter our perception of how food and drinks taste. Cheese will seem saltier to people when eaten off a knife than when eaten off a toothpick, spoon or fork. Wine will taste fruitier under certain hues. How fascinatingly strange.

The graphic from Plain and Simple Furniture is long, but read it all because there's a lot of fascinatingly strange information here that might make you rethink your dining environment.

perfect-dinner

I'm glad to see I had some instinct in creating a welcoming dining room. My wall color is paprika, a warm burnt orange, and even my Fiesta dinnerware is in warm colors of burnt orange, red and cobalt blue.

There's one takeaway I'm going to implement after looking over this information: I'm going to use the dimmer switch to lower the lighting a bit at dinner time to make the light in there warmer and not so bright. It's getting harder and harder to keep my teenage boys from inhaling their food and leaving the dinner table before we've had a chance to have a good conversation. If it's true that lower, warmer light gets people to eat more slowly, I'll give a try.

Robin Shreeves ( @rshreeves ) focuses on food from a family perspective from her home base in New Jersey.