Do more expensive wines actually taste better?
While many wine lovers will tell you otherwise, the most dominant flavour in that glass of Merlot may its price tag.
That's the opinion of Robin Goldstein, whose paper detailing more than 6,000 blind tastings maintains that “individuals who are unaware of the price do not derive more enjoyment from more expensive wine.”
Goldstein argues that most people buy wine based on image rather than smell and taste and that our expectations do influence our taste sensations.
As a result, when most people are given wine without seeing the label, they prefer cheap wines just as much or more than expensive wines.
In his followup book, "The Wine Trials" Goldstein makes it clear that what appeals to everyday wine drinkers is significantly different than what interests wine experts.
People’s buying decisions are influenced by many factors, including price, marketing, power of suggestion, etc. The book suggests that if you take away all of these factors and make buying decisions strictly on the grounds of what tastes best in the glass, everyday wine drinkers actually prefer cheaper wines to more expensive wines.
One would assume that wine, like most other products, follows basic price theory: you get what you pay for.
It's not that simple, of course. There are actually three scales for judging wine: Like versus dislike, a subjective measure based on personal taste; good versus bad, an objective measure based on a technical knowledge of wine; and cheap versus expensive, a market driven measure based on fashion and scarcity.
Where do you stand? Do you enjoy cheaper wines just as much or more than expensive wines? Or is there really that much of a difference?
By Gordon Powers, MSN Money
* Follow Gordon on Twitter here.