Monday, December 28, 2009

Is Expensive Wine really Better?

When you visit Napa and Sonoma you may observe a certain level of arrogance, prestige and quality at different wineries. Even within the same winery they may offer different levels of tasting experiences depending on if you are interested in the basic offerings or the reserve offerings. Wineries are trying to differentiate their brands and aim them towards consumers tastes and preferences. They want you to think that your personal image is associated with a particular brand and price level.

Answering the question do more expensive wines taste better, Robin Goldstein and Alex Herschkowitsch have published, THE WINE TRIALS 2010. The book is supported by an large academic research survey of over 6000 participants, details are published in "The Journal of Wine Economics" article entitled, Do More Expensive Wines Taste Better, Evidence from a large sample of Blind Tastings.

In the research study the participants were subjected to blind taste tests where an expensive and inexpensive wines were rated without prior knowledge to label, price or quality. The findings indicated that without prior knowledge to price, the participants rated less expensive wines higher than more expensive wines with statistically significant results. It was interesting that when a $150 Dom Peringon Champagne was compared against $12 Domaine Ste. Michelle Sparkling Wine from Washington State, participants favored Domaine Ste. Michelle by about 2 to 1.

What does this mean for the everyday consumer? In the book, Robin Goldstein encourages readers to conduct their own blind tastings. Decide for yourself what you like and don't like. The book presents reviews of 150 wines selling for less than $15 and decided on winners in this category.

If you subscribe to Wine Spectator or Wine Advocate, you may be influenced by the 100 point ratings they assign to wines. The authors suggest biases exist in the Wine Spectator or Wine Advocate rating systems favoring more expensive wines. These biases could be the result of an acquired taste or "perfect palate" of the expert wine drinkers. The majority of consumers are just not trained taste testers and probably cannot differentiate between black currants, blueberries, blackberries, cloves or other fragrances and tastes associated with wine.

Bottom line take away from this research study - Just because something costs more does not mean you will enjoy it more.

You may find more information at Robin Goldstein's website
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