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.
Posted by: silvino | Aug 10, 2021 9:31:33 AM
after having worked 30 years as a server, i can attest to the fact that the average person knows almost nothing about wine. The lower the price the more it has to appeal to more people. A 100$ bottle is in my opinion no better than a 30$ bottle. But my job as a server is to sell, therefore if a customer wants a 100$ bottle and asks me if it is better than the 30-50$ bottle , who am i to argue with his lack of judgement, of course it is (sarcasm). All wine, be it shiraz, cab, merlot, pinot noir, whatever all have the same basic ingredient, grapes, therefore how much better can one brand be above the others, long live the foolish customers who keep restaurants in business.
Posted by: David | Aug 10, 2021 1:27:39 PM
I do 'not' like expensive wines that rely on wooded, citris, berry, vanilla, etc. flavors, that do 'not' make them better tasting, actually worse, just an excuse to charge more and please connoisseurs who are blind leading the blind.
Regardless of price there are terrible and very good wines. It is not a matter of price, it is a total matter finding and locating the best wine while weeding through and wasting money on many bad wines while on the way to finding a very good wine. Being the expensive search because of the dumping out of bad wines in the drain and poor made wines giving sickness-headaches. Some of the very best wines are cheap, clean & fresh, and beautifully "easy drinking"! Also carefully well made that after about 4 or 5 glasses or cups it does not cause sickness and/or headaches.
So the sorting chore of finding a cheap, easy drinking, very well made wine that are the best in my opinion. Also do not be afraid to mix half cold water 'to' half cold wine for a nice cold refreshing drink at about 12 noon.
Posted by: Frank Lee | Aug 10, 2021 2:50:23 PM
I am by no means a wine expert but I find that a lot of the cheap wines (under $20 in a liquor store) just don't taste that good. But once you get above that they all taste pretty much the same to me. I've been lucky enough to drink $100 wines but the reality is I can't tell the difference between a wine that costs $30 or $100.
I think for average schmucks like me as long as it is decent wine above $20 it's all the same.
Posted by: Canuckguy | Aug 11, 2021 1:26:55 PM
@Frank Lee aka Schmuck:
I have compared $10 to $15 bottle wine versus $20 to $40 bottles and quite frankly, Frank Lee, I would fail the blind taste test on determining the higher priced and presumably better wines. I have came across a couple, one being Chateauneuf de Pape that really impressed me in the way they stood out as a pleasurable taste experience. However for routine drinking, I am satisfied with my $3 bottle of Wine Kitz wine over the $10 to $20 bottles.
Posted by: Mattie | Aug 12, 2021 7:59:11 AM
The fact is, there are people who can tell a huge difference between, for example, a cab-merlot from Ontario, a Bordeaux from France and a cab-merlot from California. If you are not one of them, you can choose to either work on increasing your palate sensitivity, or keep drinking what you like.
The other fact is, there are good and bad wines made at all price ranges, in all vintages, depending on the originating country of the wine. This is a proportional relationship, however, meaning there is a higher proportion of objectively good wine being made above the $20 price range compared to below.
What it boils down to is drink what you like. If you can actually taste a difference between a $100 and a $20 bottle of wine (and you should blind-test yourself to be sure!) then by all means, drink it. If you can't, go for the cheaper stuff. (By the way, if you are going to test this, try to get wines at different ends of the price range from the same producer and made with the same grape or blend from the same vintage. Selecting wines from different regions/ producers just doesn't make sense if you want to judge by price alone. And good luck actually pulling this off...)
@ David - you're pretty picky to be such a cheapskate. And dumping wine is wasteful - you could give it away next time...
Posted by: 6 month less a day | Aug 12, 2021 9:53:11 AM
I guess drinking wine is a bit like art,just because it costs a lot does not mean you have to like it,boils down to individual taste,I like my Long Flat just as much as the Claret,now when it comes to coppola cabernet franc,that is a different story,
as long as you have great company and conversation and a nice setting,most wines will taste great
Posted by: wine taster | Aug 12, 2021 12:44:15 PM
I work at a restaurant and am very lucky to be able to sample the wine selection without having to buy the entire bottle. That said, I have tried wines from all price ranges and it really doesn't matter. My favorite bottle costs me $14. Though when you buy wine at a restaurant does it make it taste better when you pay 2 or 3 times that amount for it? Buying it at a liquor store or a restaurant greatly changes the price, does that change the flavor for you? Drink whatever you want and don't worry what the wine snobs think.
Posted by: mellow | Aug 12, 2021 1:20:16 PM
How many of you have consistently drank $100 bottles of wine? I am no connossieur but I do know what I like. There are great bottles at all prices ranges but after I started drinking the more expensive wine more consistently then I could notice the difference between the cheap stuff. When I first got into wine I thought there was no difference between cheap and expensive but once I drank enough of the good stuff I started to appreciate the nuances and depth that the more expensive ones offer. Plus aging makes all the difference in the world. Shedding the tannin so that it glides off your pallette won't come from the cheap stuff. Drink more of the good stuff and then you will taste the difference.
Posted by: Lorus | Aug 12, 2021 2:39:25 PM
I have to say I likely agree with the book and the posts--I have in the last 3 years started making my own wine from wine kits. I have found that some are indeed a bit better than other kits and price has nothing to do with that either. I find that I have my favs with the wine kits too for a certain wine--other than that, it is such a good buy and tastes great! I never get a head ache from the reds like I do from store bought wines. A good decanter helps with all red wines from my perspective store bought or from a wine kit. It is worth the purchase and the time to use a decanter.
Posted by: Huh? | Aug 12, 2021 5:02:49 PM
It's all about taste for me. Just recently my wife and I thought we'd try to save a little money on our wine so we tried 3 different Sauvignon Blancs that were all 1 to 3 dollars less than what we normally get. Within days we were back to our old wine. I'm not saying it is better because it costs more, I am saying it's better because we like the taste better. That is our only criteria, and being within our budget. So I guess we'll have to look for savings elsewhere hah. Oh yes, we both did blind tastings to compare each of the wines.
Posted by: iwonder | Aug 12, 2021 5:08:04 PM
Chardonnay is disgusting!
Posted by: marie | Aug 12, 2021 6:57:22 PM
There is a difference in cheap red wine and a more expensive red wine. There are great white wines out there for a reasonable price.....I've never spent over $20 for a white wine. For me, where the wine comes from is key....malbecs from argentina, awesome whites california, cab sabs California....Califoarnia does make great wine.....
Posted by: Grapes of Wrath | Aug 12, 2021 7:10:54 PM
Gawd... I never heard so much wining in my whole life !! All I can say is... if the bottle has a screw top cap... you're probably getting "screwed". And if you ever heard the song "Red, Red Wine"... you gotta know the artists were drunk on the cheap stuff.