Newsweek Magazine ran a short article summarizing a new book called The Wine Trials by Robin Goldstein. The trials consisted of 500 volunteers (everyday drinkers and experts) participating in a blind taste test of 540 wines, tasting over 6,000 glasses. The results? The subjects rated lower cost wines higher than more expensive wines. The scale used was bad, OK, good and great. When they were told that a wine was more expensive it was rated higher. Even when tasting the same wine twice without their knowledge, and told they were different prices, their choice was for the more pricy bottle.
Goldstein says, “If you hide the label, the truth comes out.” Have you seen the variety of labels on the shelves today? They may as well be hidden. Talk about marketers tinkering! To me this is not breaking news. The case is being made that marketers are trying to make money. Imagine that! They have created a mystique around wine to confuse the public and trick them into not really understanding the product, and feeling inferior that they don’t. After all, anyone with proper upbringing and culture knows wine, right?
There are so many other other factors in play. For instance. Have you ever heard a song for the first time on the radio or at someone’s house and it sounded fantastic, then you go out and buy it and listen to it at home and wonder if it’s the same song? You ask yourself, “Why did I like this so much?” That’s because so much of our experience comes from the environment. Were you enjoying a glass of wine when you heard it? Having a great conversation with a good friend? Does he have a better sound system than you do? Wine’s no different. You are out on a romantic dinner and the wine was “incredible.” Buy it in the local store and drink it alone a week later and it’s OK.
When you are in a fancy restaurant on an important business dinner and the wine list is presented. Most people pretend not to notice or are looking down at their shoes. My advice. Be bold and take the lead. You can ask for a recommendation from the steward, or just pick something in the medium price range. The environment will carry the day, and you will be hailed as cultured.
I absolutely love wine, and belong to two clubs. One sells their wine for a little less than the other. I’m partial to reds and so I naturally have more tolerance when it comes to quality. Both clubs give me good reds. But I’m much more selective with whites. The less expensive club lets me down most of the time on whites. So the preference factor is heavily at work.
To me it has always been about enjoying the taste. If you like it, it’s good. Buy it and drink it. My recommended wine club is Ambrosia.