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.
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.”
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.
Watch the whole video, and take it as permission to let your
cheap-wine loving flag fly. Science approves.
Images: YouTube (4)