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
    -1

    Comment number 268.

    Some questions then...
    1. Were the sample of people used all wine drinkers? If not, what proportion were? If they were all like my mother-in-law I'm not at all surprised by these results.
    2. Were the 50% who got it right, consistently right?
    3. How much do the research team know about those factors in wine that you may not taste - such as sulphite content, or organic/biodynamic viticulture?

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 267.

    Yes, well if they had done the same test with a Micki D and a hand chopped Aberdeen Angus steak in Britain I expect the result would have been the same, so what's the big deal?

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 266.

    I can't afford to spend more than £5 on a bottle of wine, but it's obvious that a more expensive wine, something that costs over £10, will have more texture and nuance. The question is, which wines did the testers compare? Often more expensive wines are more quirky and not to everyone's tastes, but that doesn't mean that the cheaper wines are just as good. They're just less hit-and-miss.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 265.

    The fact that spending over £30 for a bottle of fermented grape-juice is normal for some, whilst being a weekly food-budget for others speaks volumes. Conspicuous consumption is a sad old vice.

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 264.

    Forgotten the Bordeaux Wine Scandal already?

    What bugs me is workers are being fleeced and bosses are still giving themselves pay rises - but thats Dorset County Council for you,

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 263.

    My wife has been telling me this for years. Now she will will think she's right; but I'll still enjoy my expensive bottles.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 262.

    Over on this side it's sashimi. And there are those that rave and swear by one or the other but to me it's just fish.
    I can also tell you as an ex-wino that after given a nice gooey brie or a satisfying cigar, the wine is just so much solvent to the palate.
    There will always be the "expert" geek on any subject, and there will always be the "snob" to discredit the rabble.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 261.

    Yet another headline-grabbing "research-shows" story. More information please. Was it a double-blind test? How were the 578 subjects chosen? Was the experiment repeated to try to remove confounding factors? What were the confidence intervals? &c.

    I'd be interested to know whether each subject was more accurate towards the end of the test... In vino veritas?

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 260.

    I can't see how this can proof anything about wine... And a fact that a great lot of people don't have very subtle sense of taste doesn't need a proof.

  • rate this
    +12

    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
    -1

    Comment number 258.

    I wonder if they matured the expensive wines properly? put something like a Lafite 1982 against some cheap bordeaux blend from the same year, then see who can tell the difference!

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 257.

    Blimey this article is the one that compelled me to register, what a load of rubbish and waste of time. If anyone considers a £5 bottle of wine is better than a vintage wine that has developed over years then they deserve exactly what they get, plonk. Even when travelling in france, try a good Pinot Noir or Croze Hermitage over a Vin De Pay D'oc, poles appart. Hardly Remarkable, just rubbish!

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 256.

    What we have been saying for years in Oz

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 255.

    OK, in the UK there is a duty tax on each bottle of wine of £ 1.25 meaning that if normal mark ups and the rest are applied the bottle costs 40 - 60 pence each. Please tell me that this would be possible if the general public could telll the difference. Hello

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 254.

    There are millionaires in this country today who have - still do - profited from the UK snobbery involved with wine. If it costs a bomb, it HAS to be good, doesn't it?

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 253.

    All this shows is that people failed to distinguish between expensive and cheap wine, but not how people perceive them. So just because someone incorrectly identifies a wine as being expensive, it presumably just means that they preferred that taste, and so linked their personal taste with the idea of it being more like an expensive wine (which should theoretically taste better to you).

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 252.

    This reminds me of a Roald Dahl short story where a man makes a huge bet of his house and the marriage of his daughter to a wine connoisseur if he can guess the origin of a particularly rare wine. I try not to give the story away but it points out that you can only know a wine if you have read the label...

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 251.

    The price of wine does not relate to the taste or tastes of the consumer .
    A wine selling for £100 is not 10 times better than a wine selling for £10.
    if the flavour in the wine can match or enhance the flavour in the dish does it matter how much the wine costs ?

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 250.

    The closer to the source, the less expensive wine often is. So you get the same for less as it were.
    No doubt that there are wines available that are better value than others.
    It depends on the level of interest and focus you have. Develop your understanding and palette and I have no doubt you can distinguish between cheaper and more expensive wines., different grapes, regions etc.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 249.

    "All this illustrates is that the public is unable to distinguish wine quality."

    Hmmm..."the public"? Is wine quality an exact science with some universal standard that a privileged few are aware of? I think not.

 

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