The One Wine Myth You Should Never Fall For, New Study Says

Krissy Gasbarre
·2 min read

If the best thing about the wine you drink is its budget-friendly cost, cheers to you. A new neuroscientific study has found that the price tag on a bottle of wine is a key influence on how much we think we enjoy it—and the pricier, the better… we think.

In a study that will soon be published in a forthcoming issue of the journal Food Quality and Preference, a psychology research team in Switzerland created a realistic scenario at a social gathering of 140 people. The researchers in this study supplied wine to the attendees and, even though the get-together was held shortly before the COVID-19 pandemic, the research team asked the participants to sit distanced from one another so they wouldn't be tempted to discuss the wine and influence each other's taste perceptions.

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The study participants were presented with three bottles of wine that had no price labeled, as well as three bottles whose price tags were in plain sight but had purposely been mislabeled so that the higher-priced wines bore lower price tags, and vice versa.

You probably know where this is going: Overall, data from the 140 participants shows that when the wines' price was unmarked, the subjects weren't markedly more or less pleased with the wine. However, wines that were marked as higher-priced when they were actually lower-cost received better taste ratings from the participants. The higher-priced wines that bore cheaper price tags didn't seem to affect pleasantness ratings overall.

This might tell us that when it comes to high-priced wine, the consumer experience is all in our heads. Earlier neurological studies performed in 2008 and 2017 with similar variables in place also found that higher wine prices yielded better quality ratings. And, as Science Alert reports, drinking the cheap wines that were deceptively priced as more expensive activated the medial orbitofrontal cortex, which serves as a reward center in our brain. "The reward and motivation system is activated more significantly with higher prices and apparently increases the taste experience in this way," concluded behavioral economist Bernd Weber, from Germany's University of Bonn after the 2017 study.

So, this weekend, why not opt for the brand on sale? It may taste just as good as the expensive stuff. Also don't miss the 5 Drinks That May Lead to a Heart Attack, According to Science.