Cheap wine 'good as pricier bottles' - blind taste test

Woman tasting wine (library picture) The wines tested were priced up to £30 a bottle

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Wine costing less than £5 a bottle can have the same effect on the palate as those priced up to six times as much, a psychological taste challenge suggests.

The blind test at the Edinburgh Science Festival saw 578 members of the public correctly identify the "cheap" or "expensive" wines only 50% of the time.

They tasted a range of red and white wines including merlot and chardonnay.

University of Hertfordshire researchers say their findings indicate many people may just be paying for a label.

Two champagnes costing £17.61 and £29.99 were compared, alongside the bottles costing less than £5 and vintages priced between £10 and £30.

The other varieties tasted were shiraz, rioja, claret, pinot grigio and sauvignon blanc.

The participants were asked to say which they thought were cheap and which were expensive.

By the laws of chance, they should have been able to make a correct guess 50% of the time - and that was the exact level of accuracy seen.

The findings demonstrate the volunteers cannot distinguish between wines by taste alone, the organisers of the test say.

Lead researcher psychologist Professor Richard Wiseman said: "These are remarkable results. People were unable to tell expensive from inexpensive wines, and so in these times of financial hardship the message is clear - the inexpensive wines we tested tasted the same as their expensive counterparts."


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  • rate this

    Comment number 259.

    I'm not sure why so many people are scoffing at the 'plebs' who can't tell the difference between expensive and cheap wine. Personally, I'm glad that I haven't spent years of my life training my palette to demand overpriced wine. The people who should be laughed at are those spending a fortune for no reason.

  • rate this

    Comment number 176.

    My wife and myself when travelling in France use the Les Routier restaurant system and with the meal there is a litre of "Vin de Table" red wine, included in meal price, we always enjoy these wines even though they are obviously cheap, so really that is the answer, it's what wine drinkers enjoy.

  • rate this

    Comment number 129.

    All this illustrates is that the public is unable to distinguish wine quality. 30 years of wine drinking has taught me that whereas there will always be some good wine at low prices and some bad wine at expensive prices, you generally get what you pay for.

    To be convincing, the study should be repeated with subjects who have developed their palate and understanding of wine over several years.

  • rate this

    Comment number 9.

    How indicative of the quality is the price anyway? Being a wine enthusiast I look for grape varieties and production methods, I know what I like - fortunately dearly beloved has similar tastes. The price only matters when we are skint, and much of our wine is bought on various supermarket '3 for £10' deals, but even when we splash out we look for what we like.

  • rate this

    Comment number 6.

    I have visited many vinyards in Europe. America and Australia over the years and tasted cheap and the expensive offerings. I have found that price has little bearing on the enjoyment of a wine.
    Some of the cheapest were excellent and some of the most expensive were plonk.
    The best rule is if you like it drink it. Take no notice of so called experts, your own taste is the only reliable judge.


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