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 8.

    I don't believe price is a good judge of any wine, or indeed any alcoholic drink come to that matter. A deliberate mystique has grown over recent years that 'exclusivity' by implication means greater quality and therefore a premium price - rubbish! It's the taste that counts, it's what you the consumer finds palatable and enjoys, it's what makes you buy another bottle,

  • rate this

    Comment number 7.

    Says a lot about the perceived "quality" of the expensive wine. Think of beer, you'd never dish out more than a fiver for a pint. Ok, some beers I've drank were really good, so let's make that a tenner. Why should wine cost so much more? Because fools are happy to make supermarkets wealthier, to show off with their "friends" at dinner parties.

  • 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.

  • rate this

    Comment number 5.

    Nice illustration of the pointlessness of wine snobbery.

  • rate this

    Comment number 4.

    Intoxicating results which bursts the bubble of the wine snobs!

  • rate this

    Comment number 3.

    So what happens if you take a group of wine experts? I bet you'd get similar results comparing works of art and a £100 rural landscape will score much higher than some £1,000,000 abstract modern painting.

  • rate this

    Comment number 2.

    No surprise there, there are many "cheap" bottles of wine, especially "new world" wines that have a far higher quality than the price range they are in. Correspondingly there are some dismal wines out there whose only saving grace is the label. Also many MoP's attending the Edinburgh Science Festival would hardly be qualified to comment, "I like that one, reminds me of Irn-Bru"

  • rate this

    Comment number 1.

    Or, scientists demonstrate that 578 members of the public are useless at tasting wine?


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