Does Expensive Wine Taste Better? Maybe Not So Carry That $7 Bottle Home Proudly, You Frugal Champion — VIDEO

TEL AVIV, ISRAEL - FEBRUARY 25: A selection of reds is prepared for a tasting panel as the Best Value wine competition gets underway on February 25, 2010 in Tel Aviv, Israel. Wine has been produced in the Holy Land since biblical times. Today, Israeli wine is made by hundreds of wineries, ranging in size from small boutique enterprises to large companies, altogether producing some 30 million bottles annually. (Photo by David Silverman/Getty Images)
Source: David Silverman/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Guys, newsflash: Expensive wine is a sham. I repeat: EXPENSIVE WINE IS A SHAM, and your habit of buying $6 wine is not a sign that you are a cheapskate, but rather that you are an undiscovered wine genius. Well, maybe. At least, that’s what I’m taking away from this new video from Vox, which shows through Vox’s own in-house experiment and a number of academic studies that expensive wine does not actually taste better than inexpensive wine. Hallelujah.

In a video posted Wednesday, 19 Vox staffers do a blind taste test of three different wines. The wines are all Cabernet Sauvignon, with the difference that they vary widely in price: One sells for $8, one for $14, and one for $43 (I know. When I see “$43,” I also immediately start calculating how many bottles of the cheap stuff I could get for the same price. The answer is at least five.) Almost half of the testers were able to identify which wine was the most expensive, but here’s the twist: Although they could tell it was fancy (one guy describes it as “very nuanced, complex”), they didn’t actually think it tasted any better than the cheapest wine. The mid-range wine (at $14) got the best rating, while the most and least expensive bottles were rated the same.

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These informal results support findings of more rigorous academic studies that have been done on wine tasting. For example, ­Vox cites a 2008 study that researched over 6,000 blind tastings. Researchers found that, unless they’d had some training in wine tasting, people didn’t like the expensive wines better than cheaper ones. In fact, “they enjoyed them slightly less.”

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What is really fascinating about this video is that it suggests that the way we physically taste wine actually changes according to the price. Vox cites a study in which researchers did brain scans of people as they tasted wines that they thought were $10 or $90. They were drinking the same wine all along, but the scans revealed that when they thought they were drinking $90 wine, test subjects’ brains showed “more activity in a region associated with pleasant tastes and smells.” Which means that expensive wines do taste better, but only when we’re aware of their price tags.

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Watch the whole video, and take it as permission to let your cheap-wine loving flag fly. Science approves.

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Images: YouTube (4)



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