By John ~ January 26th, 2008.
As a mathematician, engineer, investments researcher, and wine blogger, I was not impressed with the recent CalTech study utilizing 21 “volunteers” and measuring their brain waves as they sampled wines. The whole study design seemed a little bogus to me. And it’s certainly not new news that there are people who are impressed by fancy labels and high prices.
While I’m not surprised that people in the study got “excited” when they thought they were drinking a wine that was good, the majority of the people I know get even more excited when they find a really good deal, whether it’s on a new car, a watch, or a bottle of wine. That fact was validated for me once again last evening when I attended a wine tasting program at Central Washington University led by noted wine industry professional Amy Mumma. Among the wines we tasted, we had two Mystery Merlots that we tasted blind, knowing only that one had a price tag twice the other one. After tasting both and voting on our favorite, it was revealed that the crowd favorite was a $9 bottle.
I wish that we had all been hooked to CalTech’s MRI when that fact was announced because the room was really excited. As Dr. Debs said in her response to the CalTech study, “My brain must be wired funny, because I get the biggest tingle in my ‘rewards center’ when I drink great wine and discover it only cost $8. Maybe I need a good electrician.” I guess many of us needed a good electrician last night too.
The moral of the story: Blind tasting is the only way to judge wine purely on its merits because it takes price and label out of the equation. And in my opinion, when a blind tasting reveals a really good deal, you have the ultimate high in wine tasting. That’s why we at Wine Peeps do all of our tastings blind and then rate the wines we taste both on Quality as well as value (QPR). This process helps us become smarter wine consumers, getting us excited as we find good deals.
Filed under: General Wine Information