As a connoisseur of Charles Shaw (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Shaw_wine) I resent the implication that by costing $2, Charles Shaw is somehow an inferior wine. Isn't that the entire _thesis_ of that article, that you don't associate quality based on pricing?
From the Wikipedia article:
"At the 28th Annual International Eastern Wine Competition, Shaw's 2002 Shiraz received the double gold medal, besting the roughly 2,300 other wines in the competition.
Shaw's 2005 California chardonnay was judged Best Chardonnay from California at the Commercial Wine Competition of the 2007 California Exposition and State Fair. The chardonnay received 98 points, a double gold, with accolades of Best of California and Best of Class."
I've seen Charles Shaw win at more than one taste testing.
I am looking to get to the validity of article quote
As a result, if we think a wine is cheap, it will taste cheap. And if we think we are tasting a grand cru, then we will taste a grand cru. Our senses are vague in their instructions, and we parse their inputs based upon whatever other knowledge we can summon to the surface.
I did the same experiment with beers few years back. Showed friends three different ales, poured one of them into three glasses and bet they couldn't tell which glass had which ale. Though exact answers differed, all of them thought there were three different beers in those glasses. That was truly epic :)
On the other hand I ran the same test with cheap and expensive port and people could easily tell which one is which. I also find that the same is true for wines - there is a noticeable difference between $5 and $30 wine, but once it gets over $50, then telling them apart becomes much harder. One should really have the palate for that, and very few people do.
Hmmm... as I think on it, maybe there's something more to it than that. Because when I think of those $15 wines, I'm not thinking "generic $15 wine". I'm thinking, "oooo, that $15 wine I really like." That is to say, I'm not sure I could reliably tell you which of a set of random Zinfandels was $5 and which $15. But I know there are certain reliable $10-$18 Zinfandels -- Ravenswood, Renwood, and Rosenblum leap to mind -- that I like much better than anything I've tasted under $10. That doesn't mean that I have liked every $15 Zinfandel I ever tasted, though.
And most expensive wines need to mature before you enjoy them, if you uncork them right away it won't be a very pleasant experience.
(This is for store bought wine, for restaurants multiply prices by 2 to 4).
You can find some really consistently great pinot noirs, merlots, and malbecs for much less than $20. I would steer clear of cabernet sauvignon simply because there is such a wild degree of variation in taste and it is not consistent with price.
Be aware of prices by region as well. Some grape varieties grow more easily in certain climates and as a result will be more cheaply produced. The Oregon wines have recently gotten noticeably more expensive, but this has more to do with it becoming a trendy region much like Napa Valley in the past.
So be aware of factors in price when buying wines, and your personal preference in wine body should be the ultimate determinant of how much you should be willing to spend. On a side note, if you're ever throwing a dinner party stick with the lighter wines. I break out the schmitt sohne riesling for $8 a bottle during the summer and while it's too sweet for my taste, guests usually love it.
> You see what happened there? Even though their assumption about wine was false – the more expensive Cabernet didn’t taste better – that assumption still led to increased pleasure,
Turns out lying to certain types of women about how much you make or how much you drive, isn't so stupid after all
1) When you want nice wine, go to Safeway and buy the $20 bottle with the largest discount (of a type you like, of course). You'll typically pay $12-14 for a pretty good bottle.
2) For those times when you are feeling cheap- well, this is more of a 'be prepared'. Drink cheap straight gin, cheap straight whiskey, and a little straight Wray & Nephew Overproof Rum for a few months. Then, 2-buck chuck tastes gorgeous.
I've read this type of study several times - either I have especially sensitive taste or there is something wrong with the studies because it is simply not true that there is no correlation between taste and price.
Can I tell the difference between a $15 bottle and a $40 bottle? No, I don't taste price. Are as many $15 bottles excellent as $40 bottles? Absolutely not.
One flaw: if you pick a random $40 bottle and a random $15 bottle and ask someone which they like, this is not a valid study. You need to pick a wine that both costs $40 AND IS WORTH $40 and likewise a wine that's WORTH $15. Just because a wine is $90 doesn't mean it's great, but if a wine is $2 it probably sucks.
The correlation is there and pretty strong, particularly when moving from $2 to $8 to $15, but it is not perfect. Price != taste.
What needs to be studied is if there is a correlation between price amd consumer preference. As far as I can tell, this was not an effort to do that, but rather to prove the obvious: you can't taste price. This is true for any kind of food.
Can you look at two pieces of art and tell which is ore expensive? No. Is better art more expensive? Sometimes, usually yes, and often eventually. Same can be said for wine. Price is a product of demand, demand depends on information and information distribution. Both products are small batch and highly personal, so price quality correlations will be less accurate and change over time.
This study shows that some/many wines cost more, yet don't taste better. In other words, a random expensive wine is likely not great from a price-quality, or even just quality, perspective. This is relevant to the unsophisticated buyer, i.e. most of their readers.
I think you're arguing that, essentially, a well-chosen expensive wine is noticeably better than a similarly well-chosen not-so-expensive wine. I'm inclined to believe you, but that is much harder for the average consumer to act on.
A lot of these arguments could be made for any product or service. If you pay more for your house, does it mean that you will live happier? No. You may be much happier in central Montana than New York. If you pay more for your clothes, do they look better? If you pay more for your music, do you enjoy it more?
The whole debate is non-sense. Any consumer who thought they were necessarily getting better wine simply because they paid more probably is not literate enough to have understood this article.
You'd expect that, yes, but this article and similar studies strongly suggest that this is not actually true (at the high end, at least). That's the entire point.
On the other hand, you can get some really good (and some merely questionable, like the Mendecino County Pinot Noir) stuff around the $10 range from Castle Rock, who bottles other peoples excess product and sells it under their own name.
If you've never done it go, just once, to a high end French restaurant order lite and spend $300-400 on a bottle of wine. You'll remember the taste for years and top down is a much better strategy for building an appreciation for wine then starting with two-buck-chuck and working your way up.
Indeed - it's the knowledge that the bottle costs $400 which in fact makes it taste so good.
I would agree that the bottle has to start off tasting good (Let's say, Wine Advocate and Wine Spectator rating of 95 or greater) - but I've been to a lot of taste-testings, with people with much, much more refined palets than mine, and we've never had more than random predictability of discerning the difference between a $15, $30, $60 or $90 bottle of wine.
It's pretty sad how easily consumers can be fooled by cheap tricks like a frosted bottle and the words "made in France". They don't even need the help of alcohol to make poor decisions :p
Taste of the vodka is irrelevant. You drink it to get drunk, not to enjoy the taste. So, for example, vodka on the rocks makes as much sense as deep fried caviar - it's a pointless waste of a product. Secondly, and most importantly, you are looking at whether you get a hangover in the morning or not. That's it. So the criteria for a good vodka is (a) doesn't make you cringe when drunk and (b) no hangover.
Stick with Wyborowa or Stolichnaya. If not, get a really cheap one and put it through Brita filter a couple of times. This removes all impurities (specifically - the fusel oils, which is what actually hurts the head in the morning), and it will be as good as high-grade commercial product.
(edit) By the way, another way to filter cheap vodka is to mix it with cranberries (ideally the wild ones), mush them and let sit for 24 hours. Filter and enjoy. Cranberries absorb the oils and infuse vodka, so not only this reduces the hangover effects, it also makes the vodka significantly more pleasant to drink.
Any russians in the audience care to clear things up?