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
    +3

    Comment number 28.

    Q: What is the definition of a good bottle of wine?
    A: One that, as you drink the last glass, makes you say to yourself "I enjoyed that".

    Price is irrelevant.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 27.

    Sounds like a very bad example of an unscientific analysis, I'll not question why!

    Any experienced wine taster with knowledge of finer wines will confirm that other palates may very well find lesser wine "taste" as good. This study failed to measure the proportions of samplers with such knowledge.

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 26.

    I'm willing to bet that the results would have been different if the 578 people were expert wine tasters. I like wine but I mostly can only afford cheap plonk at about £5 a bottle so I wouldn't have the educated palate to be able to tell the difference between plonk and expensive stuff. I don't have particularly expensive tastes anyway. I can't stand champagne, I think it tastes foosty.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 25.

    The comments from the wine snobs are hilarious. "They didn't understand the complexity"? Much like the little boy didn't appreciate the fine stitching of the emperor's "new clothes"!

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 24.

    I'm sure that the reason only members of the public took part is that the 'real experts' would not have done much better and it would have been too embarrasing for them.

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 23.

    A wine label I picked up read
    "With flavours of pineapple and other fruits"

    We have to admire linguist journalists penning in unconfined elaboration,
    of airs and graces, the consumer delights of taste to the EYE.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 22.

    I enjoy drinking burgundy and beaujolais wines and can certainly tell the difference between these and cheap wines - it's all a matter of taste.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 21.

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

    - But the public are the people buying the wine at Supermarkets and at restaurants and could be paying well over the odds for a 'quality' of wine that could bring them the same enjoyment as a £3 bottle of wine. But then, if they only buy expensive wine to impress friends, let them be mugs and do it!

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 20.

    As a friend of mine always says when I ask him if he likes the wine, "The taste never put me off"

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 19.

    I am sure that the "real wine enthusiasts" with their perceived sense of superiority will argue that the test was conducted using mere members of the general public and therefore proves they are the elite of the sipping class.

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 18.

    This is why we need respected wine reviews by Parker and Winespectator Magazine, because quality does not correlate with price and as Parker points out, incestuous relationships between English wine merchants and negociants often dictates the price of wine by promulgating lies, deception, and outright fraud. I wouldn't believe a wine merchant's opinion if his tongue came notarized. Or BBC.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 17.

    I am surprised the general public did not actually prefer the cheap wine. It is what they are used to and the greater comlexity of more expensive wines might put them off.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 16.

    All this shows is that 578 members of the public can't tell the difference between cheap and expensive wine. Granted, these people may be wasting their money forking out for more expensive bottles, but it's a far cry from saying that they 'tasted the same'. This would have been a much more interesting study if there was an expert taste test as well, and possibly even some chemical analysis.

  • rate this
    +6

    Comment number 15.

    @jimfo #6
    I completely agree with you.
    Forget the wine snobs who tell you what tastes good.
    You are the only one who knows which wine suits your own pallate.
    I'm well travelled and have usually always been attracted to the cheaper brands because of taste not economy.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 14.

    I truly hope the University of Hertfordshire and have not invested too much money into realising that consumers maybe just be paying for a label! i think thats common sense! the industry is BUILT on Big Labels, and its not just wine! Yes the compared grapes/wines were at different prices but were they different styles? I think the findings in this are OLD NEWS and were not correcty researched.

  • rate this
    -3

    Comment number 13.

    More expensive wines tend to have more "challenging" flavours which many people may not like at first: remember your first swig of Jack Daniels? One of the descriptors of French Sauvignon Blanc is "cat's pee". Central Otago Pinot Noir is "musty & mushroomy". And Hunter Shiraz is "cow poo". Many people will choose the more pleasant (or least offensive) option and that tends to be bland, cheap wine.

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 12.

    This is no surprise. Many wines are priced on a supply and demand basis. A vineyard may be 40 hectares, legal maximum yield may be 45 hectolitres per hectare, = 1,800 hectolitres of wine in a year. If sold at £5 a bottle it sells out in six months, if sold at £10 a bottle it sells out in one year. Simple economics!

  • rate this
    -3

    Comment number 11.

    I dont like wine, tried varioust types etc but i find it all tastes vile, i love nothing more than going out to a nice place to eat and seeing the disguist on their faces when i order a pint with my meal. Nothing more annoying than a wine snob,the mrs loves wine but will never spend over £6 on a decent bottle.

  • rate this
    -5

    Comment number 10.

    The majority of wine on UK supermarket shelves is bland and without character, made cheaply and blended for the mass market. It tends to have little in the way of complexity or regionality and nothing to do with the conditions the grapes were grown in. Which is why different vintages of Jacobs Creek (for example) all taste the same: it's made for mass consumption like Coke. (continued...)

  • rate this
    +10

    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.

 

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