If I had a dollar for every time I heard a person say "If you don’t charge more for the wine they won’t take it seriously" I’d have enough money to fund a research project on why people believe the more expensive it is the better is.
Of course no one does give me a dollar every time I hear such a thing so it’s a damn good thing we have the folks over at the California Institute of Technology to do this research for us.
For some of you reading this the following will fall into the category of "duh, tell me something new": Research shows people get more pleasure from a wine when they know it costs more.
The research was carried out by Antonio Rangel and colleagues at California Institute of Technology. Basically they had subjects taste different wines and all the people new was the prices of the wines. However, in some cases less expensive wine was labeled as much more expensive than it really is and vice versa.
"They [researchers] asked 20 people to sample wine while
undergoing functional MRIs of their brain activity. The subjects were
told they were tasting five different Cabernet Sauvignons sold at
However, there were actually only three wines sampled, two being offered twice, marked with different prices.
A $90 wine was provided marked with its real price and again marked
$10, while another was presented at its real price of $5 and also
Folks liked the wines they were told were more expensive.
"Our results suggest that the brain might
compute experienced pleasantness in a much more sophisticated manner
that involves integrating the actual sensory properties of the
substance being consumed with the expectations about how good it should
OK…so to those of us who know wine and the wine industry well this isn’t much of a shocker, but it’s nice to have scientific confirmation of what we already know. But how about this part of the research:
"On the other hand, when tasters didn’t know any
price comparisons, they rated the $5 wine as better than any of the
Why would this be the case? Americans like sweet, smooth liquid and most certainly like their wine that way. That’s why inexpensive wine, the kind most often bought, is smooth and sweet.
But here’s my favorite part of the article that reported on this research:
"Next step: pain.
Rangel wants to see if people perceive pain differently, depending
on their expectations. He hopes to administer mild electric shocks to
subjects and measure their reaction when told a shock was going to be
stronger or weaker."