I’ve ranted and raved about the approachability of wine to many and for so long that when I meet someone that cries “wines are too expensive for me to get into”, I shudder at the thought that my work is still not done. There are so many that deprive themselves of the drink of the gods, due to a fallacy about price being synonymous with ‘good wine’. I just had the very same conversation with my dental hygienist during a cleaning last week; so you can call it a half conversation as I gestured like a one woman charades show. She found herself in an environment where the doctors spoke of the wines they drank and their hefty price tag and so to her “wine was too expensive”. A thought that couldn’t be further from the truth. So, this post will act as my quick reference for those who claim wines unapproachable nature and for my dental hygienists.
The Science Behind Price and the Merriment of Wine
Like any marketable product, the more exclusive you make it seem the more wanted it becomes. Now, this marketing strategy may not translate exactly to wine, but there are some similarities. I argue that when tasked with selecting the wine for tonights dinner or a hostess gift, most people, if seeing a $30 bottle of wine next to one of the same varietal and region, but priced at $7.99, will pick the more expensive assuming that on price alone it must be good. But is it?
The following studies show that when a consumer is unaware of the price of the wine, they often choose the less expensive based on their taste inclinations.
AgEcon Search: Research in agriculture and applied economics
“Individuals who are unaware of the price do not derive more enjoyment from more expensive wine. In a sample of more than 6,000 blind tastings, we find that the correlation between price and overall rating is small and negative, suggesting that individuals on average enjoy more expensive wines slightly less.”
Wired: Should We Buy Expensive Wine?
“Richard Wiseman conducted a simple study about wine. He bought a wide variety of bottles at the local supermarket, from a $5 Bordeaux to a $50 champagne, and asked people to say which wine was more expensive. (All of the taste tests were conducted double-blind, with neither the experimenter nor subject aware of the actual price.) The results should upset wine snobs everywhere: The 600 plus participants could only pick the more expensive wine 53 percent of the time, which is basically random chance.”
Huffington Post: Cheap Wine vs. Expensive Wine – can you tell the difference
Trader Joe’s Charles Shaw Blend Cabernet Sauvignon (a.k.a. Three-Buck Chuck), California, 2011 — $3
Laurel Glen Cabernet Sauvignon, Sonoma Mountain, Californa, 2007 — $65
Price difference: $62
Tasters’ verdict: Only 38 percent of our tasters correctly identified the more expensive wine, and 62 percent preferred the $3 variety from Trader Joe’s. Surprising, right? Think about how much more wine those tasters can get for their buck.
There you have it. In many cases, even the experts are unable to discern the most expensive bottle of wine from the cheap. The topic has probably best been surmised by Perrine Prieur: [Wine is] “something you share and discover with friends. Why get complicated about it? Expensive, cheap, whatever, just try to keep it simple and enjoyable.” What can be called ‘good wine’ is really up to you and your personal preference. You are the decision maker on which wines take you on your best journey and provide the best experience, not the suggested retail price or a posted wine score. Oh, if you are wondering what happened to my dental hygienist. I went out and bought her a bottle of Château Des Charmes Old Vine Riesling 2013; a fantastic tasting, moderately priced Ontario wine, proving that great wines are affordable and in her backyard.