People have been drinking wine ever since some lucky farmer accidentally fermented his fruit many thousands of years ago. Yet to most people wine remains something of a mystery. We accept that some bottles will cost five or 10 times as much as the $15 wine we pick up for dinner. We may think we know the difference, but blind taste tests show we often don’t. Wine experts are far from immune to such trickery….For a 2008 study, they asked people to taste five Cabernets while in a brain scanner.
The subjects were told the per-bottle price of each wine before tasting ($5, $10, $35, $45, and $90) and rated how much they liked it. In reality, there were only three wines — the $5 wine also posed as the $45 wine, while the $90 wine also slummed as the $10 wine.
Overall, the more expensive a wine supposedly was, the more people liked it. Subjects enjoyed the $90 wine the most, but not when they tasted it in the guise of a $10 bottle. In that case, they liked it a lot less than they did the $5 wine in its $45 disguise.