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.