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Why Expensive Wine Tastes Better

Or does it? A new study finds how our brain tricks us.



 

That $100 bottle of Cabernet seems like a nice complement to dinner. And it very well may taste great. But just the thought of “expensive” and “wine” is enough to get your taste buds going.

New research is showing that just the mention of cost can alter our perception of quality, according to a study in Nature.

Participants in the study were given glasses of wine at various price points and asked their opinion of each. Their preference tended to favor the more expensive brands. In actuality, everyone was given the same wine. The only thing that differed was the cost.

While the participants drank, researchers monitored their brain via an MRI scanner. They found that the areas of the brain that were engaged dealt with evaluating expectations and receiving rewards—meaning the expectations for the expensive wines were high enough that it actually affected the opinion given. 

This is not to say the whole wine industry is one big swindle. Experienced wine drinkers have shown an ability to discern quality no matter what the price. But perhaps it’s better not to automatically assume high cost equals high quality.   

 

Read Feel Good Tuesdays and Thursdays online and monthly in the magazine.

 

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