Expensive and inexpensive wines taste the same, research shows

Apr 15, 2011 By Maroulla Georgiou

(PhysOrg.com) -- Psychologist Prof Richard Wiseman (University of Hertfordshire) today revealed the results of The Taste Test - a large-scale experiment to discover whether expensive wines are good value for money. The experiment was carried out as part of the Edinburgh International Science Festival and involved over 400 members of the public tasting either an expensive or inexpensive wine, and then trying to tell which was which.

The inexpensive wines cost less than £5 per bottle, and the expensive ones were priced between £10 and £30. The experimenters tested a mixture of red and white wines from various countries, including Sauvignon Blanc, Rioja, Claret and Champagne.

The test was conducted 'double-blind', with neither the tasters nor experimenters knowing the cost of the . By chance the volunteers would have correctly classified their wine as expensive or inexpensive 50% of the time. Volunteers' actual accuracy was exactly at chance, demonstrating that they could not distinguish between the two types of wine by alone.

"These are remarkable results," commented Wiseman. "People were unable to tell expensive from inexpensive wines, and so in these times of financial hardship the message is clear - the inexpensive wines we tested taste the same as their expensive counterparts."

The Edinburgh International Science Festival runs from 9 to 22 April 2011 with over 200 events in 30 venues across the city.

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JamesThomas
5 / 5 (1) Apr 15, 2011
I imagine there is a placebo-effect that occurs when one pays more for a bottle of wine that would make the wine taste better....and just the opposite effect when one buys a cheap bottle.

So even though we now know the truth that the two wines are basically the same, the placebo-effect may negate much of the practicality.
that_guy
5 / 5 (2) Apr 15, 2011
For some people, yes. But many wine enthusiasts love finding a great bottle of wine at a cheap price.

Also, this study does oversimplify it a little bit. There are a variety of tastes and types of wines that different people will prefer.

Moral of this story: even wine enthusiasts generally hate those who think a wine isn't good unless it's over $50.
SmaryJerry
not rated yet Apr 15, 2011
The key words are: "members of the public." Meaning those people have no business making taste tests. Also, ofcourse there are cheap wines that are good and expensive wines that are bad.
PinkElephant
5 / 5 (3) Apr 15, 2011
It's quite simple, really.

When you buy a cheap wine and it tastes good, you think "wow, that was very lucky!"

When you buy a cheap wine and it tastes bad, you think "well, that was to be expected; better pay more next time."

When you buy an expensive wine and it tastes good, you think "money well spent", and pat yourself on the shoulder.

When you buy an expensive wine and it tastes bad, you shrug and think "well, maybe I should try another vintage".

And actually, it's exactly the same with any other type of product: drink, food, clothes, computers, etc.
RobertKarlStonjek
5 / 5 (1) Apr 15, 2011
...tested a mixture of red and white wines...

Every time I tried that the red wine sank to the bottom...
Bookbinder
not rated yet Apr 16, 2011
"...mixture of red and white wines..."
Yuk! No wonder they couldn't tell the difference.
cisono
5 / 5 (1) Apr 16, 2011
Some experiments are really not well thought out...
or perhaps the experimenters were mixing their whites and reds a bit too much while planning it out!

The volunteers did not seem to be wine connoisseurs (Edinburgh anyone? More likely a good site for beer tasting rather than wine...).

Suggestions:

1) Repeat this experiment in Spain or Italy where the "common people" have some clue about decent wine

2) What would the results have been if the volunteers had known at least a bit more about wine?

A teetotaller.
Quantum_Conundrum
1 / 5 (1) Apr 16, 2011
And actually, it's exactly the same with any other type of product: drink, food, clothes, computers, etc.


Yup.

Brand name foods have so many people fooled. You pay an extra dollar or two or more for the exact same thing which often even comes from the same region.

For the vast majority of products there is no correlation between price and quality.
Moebius
1 / 5 (1) Apr 16, 2011
Another BS test. Anyone with a brain knows that expensive wine can taste bad and inexpensive wine can taste good. I like Yellowtail reds, taste good and cheap. I like German whites and the more expensive usually taste better. Nothing like a good Spatlese or Auslese while the cheaper qualitattswein is almost always not as good. I'll take a cheaper sweet Asti over dry Champagne any time no matter how expensive.

I'll bet they didn't go to much length to do a fair test of identical types of cheap and expensicve wine.
ryggesogn2
2.3 / 5 (3) Apr 16, 2011
For the vast majority of products there is no correlation between price and quality.

There usually is.

Of course there are some product that many don't like regardless of cost, like caviar.
Quality ingredients, quality production produce a quality product. In a competitive market, that quality usually costs a bit more but it shows in value.

"The bitterness of poor quality is remembered long after the sweetness of low price has faded from memory."
Gucci

"Quality in a product or service is not what the supplier puts in. It is what the customer gets out and is willing to pay for. A product is not quality because it is hard to make and costs a lot of money, as manufacturers typically believe. This is incompetence. Customers pay only for what is of use to them and gives them value. Nothing else constitutes quality." Drucker

After the first few sips of wine/beer/liquor, it all begins to taste the same.
Drink an Arrogant Ba$tard Ale and all other beer tastes like water.
George_Rodart
not rated yet Apr 16, 2011
I agree with Moebius, it's BS. They should run a test with wines all at the same price point. If price was equal and then not a factor, then what would these results mean?
StandingBear
1 / 5 (1) Apr 16, 2011
I think the real deal is that professional tasters can tell the difference, but the general public cannot. There is a sub variety of human called variously 'tasters', and/or 'smellers' who can detect subtle tastes and/or smells far better than the average person. My late wife was such a person until shortly before she died. Whether this is because of heredity, or because we average folks dull our senses with bad food and strong spices, I cannot say. But I do know that professional tasters on that test would have fared far better. For the rest of us, just buy a good quality cheap wine from California and you cannot go wrong. ....or New York...or Michigan...or Ohio..or Washington...you know the drill.
panorama
not rated yet Apr 16, 2011
After the first few sips of wine/beer/liquor, it all begins to taste the same.

You're not drinking it fast enough...

Drink an Arrogant Ba$tard Ale and all other beer tastes like water.

This brought tears to my eyes...you sir, have great taste in beer.
Elissa
not rated yet Apr 16, 2011
I have had expensive champagne - Don Perrignon, 1985, $300.00. I have had a very nice bottle of Spumanti for $10.00. The name/price factor doesn't get in my way and I always look for new wines from new regions, many of which are excellent. Keep an open, not snobbish, mind and drink what tastes good to you. I happen to think champagne goes great with a great, homemeade cheeseburger.
PinkElephant
not rated yet Apr 16, 2011
@Elissa,

Just FYI, and it's a common mistake, but the correct spelling is "Dom Perignon". Particular emphasis on "Dom" as opposed to "Don"...
ryggesogn2
1 / 5 (2) Apr 16, 2011
After the first few sips of wine/beer/liquor, it all begins to taste the same.

You're not drinking it fast enough...

Drink an Arrogant Ba$tard Ale and all other beer tastes like water.

This brought tears to my eyes...you sir, have great taste in beer.

I made the mistake once of drinking and A.B.A before having Red Hook Pale Ale, which is quite hoppy. It tasted like water. Buy a six pack of Red Hook and a case of PBR and you are all set to party.
PinkElephant
not rated yet Apr 17, 2011
^^ I've never understood people who like drinking beer that tastes like a mixture of dishwasher fluid and paint thinner...
Calenur
not rated yet Apr 18, 2011
I really don't like Arrogant Bastard. Because of their marketing, they've found a way to make an otherwise lopsided beer a good sell. Not to my taste I guess. I've always been partial to Tripel Karmeliet and the like. It's hard to go wrong with a good beer from Belgium.
Justsayin
1 / 5 (1) Apr 18, 2011
The had to have used volunteer tasters that on average did not drink but a few glasses of wine a year.