Are you a wine snob?


Have you encountered one, or many?

I for one, usually enjoy my seven-dollar bottles of cheap Australian Shiraz (when I’m not in the middle of a 105 day alcohol-free stint.)

Here’s a great article from Reuters that shows how cost of wine plays into the mentality of those who say they enjoy an expensive wine more than a cheaper bottle.

Higher wine prices boost drinking pleasure

hoboken-red-wine.jpgThe more wine costs, the more people enjoy it, regardless of how it tastes, a study by California researchers has found.

Researchers at the Stanford Graduate School of Business and the California Institute of Technology found that because people expect wines that cost more to be of higher quality, they trick themselves into believing the wines provide a more pleasurable experience than less expensive ones.

Their study, published on Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, says that expectations of quality trigger activity in the medial orbitofrontal cortex, the part of the brain that registers pleasure. This happens even though the part of our brain that interprets taste is not affected.

While many studies have looked at how marketing affects behavior, this is the first to show that it has a direct effect on the brain.

The researchers said that when 20 adult test subjects sampled the same wine at different prices, they reported experiencing pleasure at significantly greater levels when told the wine cost more. At the same time, the part of the brain responsible for pleasure showed significant activity.

“We have known for a long time that people’s perceptions are affected by marketing, but now we know that the brain itself is modulated by price,” said Baba Shiv, an associate professor at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, and one of the authors of the study.

Maybe you can shove this into the face of your local wine retailer when they try to upsell you on a pricey bottle!

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17 Comments on "Are you a wine snob?"

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cheap wine tastes like crap, and only when you’ve had better stuff do you realize you didn’t know any better. but cheap is only partially determined by price. cheap is really more emcompassing than that. this yellow tail crap i see around for example – that’s cheap. one good rule of thumb – not foolproof – is that if a particular low-priced brand makes all varieties of wine, they’re probably not that good.
the whole secret is knowing how to distinguish between cheap price and cheap quality. as brian_g says, price is one barometer. but experimentation needs to go along with it; don’t always default to the same things over and over.


20 people is not a terribly large sample size.

The more wine you drink the more refined your tastes become. Most people use price to determine quality because they don’t know any better.


[quote comment=”63111″][quote comment=”63076″]I like wine from a Goon-Bag.

are you an Aussie?[/quote]
No, but I hung around with a couple when I lived in HK. Cool people.

They’re like Americans were supposed to be. I’d emigrate to Oz in a heartbeat. 😐


[quote comment=”63076″]I like wine from a Goon-Bag.

are you an Aussie?


[quote comment=”63037″]winesob, where are you?[/quote]

oh sorry i was in my well stocked wine cellar, what was the question?