Wine connoisseurs will often refer to wines that are fine and rare when they are describing why wine is expensive. The “fine” in “fine and rare” obviously refers to the quality and reputation of the winemaker, and to a wine collector. But what about casual wine drinkers who aren’t educated in the complexity of winery? How do they decide what wine(s) taste best? And does expensive wine really taste better than cheap wine? It’s an age-old question that is often debated among wine drinkers around the globe and now a new study suggests that the price of a bottle can heavily influence someone’s opinion.
According to the research which was published in the journal Food Quality and Preference, if the price point is the biggest factor you consider when buying wine, it may inadvertently make you think it tastes better.
For the study, researchers conducted wine tastings for 140 study participants in which they served three types of 2013 vintages: a Montepulciano d'Abruzzo DOC ($10/bottle), a Bolgheri DOC (roughly $34), and a Toscana IGT (roughly $70). Some of the participants were shown the real prices while others were given the lowest price for the most expensive wine and vice versa. At the end of the study, you can guess what happened…
Taste, as everybody knows, is wildly subjective. What tastes good and pleasing to one person may be just average by another person. Yet, whenever the participants believed the wine, they were drinking was more expensive (even if it wasn’t), they claimed they enjoyed it far more.
"While pleasantness ratings did not differ for open and no-price information, deceptive up-pricing of low-price wine significantly influenced ratings for pleasantness," write the authors. "In wine may lay the truth, but its subjective experience may also lie in the price."
So there you have it. Next time you have friends and family over for dinner, try the experiment yourself and see if they enjoy the wine that you claim is more expensive, even if it is not.