Cheap wine can still taste more expensive, under the right circumstances.
That’s according to a new study published in the journal “Food Quality and Preference” that suggests people are more likely to say they enjoy wine if they’re told it’s expensive — no matter how much it really costs.
A new study found taste testers were more likely to enjoy cheap wine when told it was more expensive. (iStock)
In the study, psychologists manipulated the price of wine during a tasting held at the University of Basel in Switzerland, where 140 blind tasters were given three versions of Italian wine. Each was labeled “low-, mid-, or high-price,” with costs ranging between $10 and $70 per bottle. Other wines featured in the mix had no price tag, while some accurately listed their price.
Participants were asked to rate the intensity of the wines as well as how good they perceived the tastes to be. But, perhaps not surprisingly, their palates correlated with the price tags instead.
When participants were unknowingly given a cheaper wine — told that its price was actually four times greater that its actual cost — they rated the wine as more “pleasant” than the genuinely expensive bottle. But when the more expensive wine was served, and participants were told it was much cheaper than it really was, the taste ratings remained the same.
“The cheapest wine was rated as more pleasant when presented as fourfold of its actual retail price,” the researchers outlined in the study. “No effect was found when decreasing the price label of the expensive wine by a fourfold,” they explained.
“Thus, in wine may lay the truth, but its subjective experience may also lie in the price,” concluded the study’s astract.
It’s not the first time accessibly-priced wine was perceived as great-tasting. A $13 bottle of wine sold at Aldi’s Australian supermarkets won the top prize at Australia’s Royal Adelaide Wine Show in October, beating out some bottles that were five times more expensive. And last March, a $10 bottle of the grocer’s Quarter Cut Bourbon Barrel-Aged Cabernet Sauvignon was ranked the best wine of 2020 by Product of the Year USA, the world’s largest consumer award for product innovation in packaged goods.