Price fake out

When people think wine is expensive, they think it tastes better, at least according to a 2008 scientific study.

The scientists gave 20 participants Cabernet Sauvignon and a non-wine liquid reminiscent of saliva (gross) to drink as they scanned their brains, focusing on pleasure centers. Wines were administered multiple times, both at their retail price and at a 900% markup or markdown. The participants drank what they thought were $5, $10, $35, $45 and $90 wines.

And guess what, the guinea pigs had a better time drinking the wine they thought was more expensive!


From the study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of the United States of America:

Our results show that increasing the price of a wine increases subjective reports of flavor pleasantness as well as blood-oxygen-level-dependent activity in medial orbitofrontal cortex, an area that is widely thought to encode for experienced pleasantness during experiential tasks. 

Honestly, I wasn’t surprised by the findings. Louis Vuitton and other luxury brands have been marking up prices for years to exude, well, an essence of luxury.

Most of the time that I buy wine it’s under $15, sometimes I splurge for a $20 bottle. If I’m at a winery, it’s 99.9% of the time more than that, but I still buy there because many prices reflect the small batches or boutique wines. Buying bottles at a restaurant also tend to cost more (more on that in an upcoming blog post). However, I usually get a bottle while dining out when there’s several people at the table who will be splitting the check, making the bottle more economical than individual glasses of wine. If you can BYOW, like some restaurants in Los Angeles, you’re a winner in my book.

What’s your maximum price when it comes to buying a bottle of wine?