This article is from a couple years ago, but I love it.
Volunteers in California who were given sips of wines with fake prices said they preferred the cabernets they thought were more expensive to the ones they thought were cheaper about 80 percent of the time, according to the study published tomorrow in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Researchers scanning the volunteers’ brains while they drank confirmed they enjoyed the pricier wines more. The experiment helps explain how marketing practices can influence both the preferences of consumers and the enjoyment registered by their brains, said Antonio Rengel, one of the study’s authors.
So for the exact same wine, their level of physical enjoyment increases with price! I do wonder if these results would hold up if they were paying for the wine themselves (although they probably would because then they feel like they have to justify the price). I must be wired just the opposite because I get much more enjoyment out of finding inexpensive wines that taste good than thinking I’m drinking a $90 bottle of wine. Seriously, I’d be miserable drinking a wine that costs that much — what a waste of money!
Researchers observed brain activity in the medial orbitofrontal cortex, an area of the brain that’s responsible for perceptions of pleasure while listening to music, smelling flowers and tasting wines. Preference shown by the brain patterns were highest for wines with the most-inflated prices.
Before the study began, each of the volunteers said they enjoyed red wine and sometimes drank it. When researchers replicated the study with “mild experts” at the Stanford University wine club in California the results were the same, Rangel said.
The best part of all this though is the last paragraph of the article, the one that gives credence to the Reverse Wine Snob lifestyle! (Note that the wines used in the study had actual costs ranging from $5 to $90):
In a follow-up experiment eight weeks after the original study, patients were given the wines to taste without any suggested prices. Most chose the $5 wine as their favorite, Rangel said.
Read the whole article from Bloomberg here.
Check out the Interactive Wine Rating Chart to find all my reviews! You can sort by type of wine, cost, rating, etc. in the interactive spreadsheet.