Higher wine prices boost drinking pleasure

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SuperiorBrew

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Higher wine prices boost drinking pleasure By Clare Baldwin
Tue Jan 15, 10:39 AM ET

The 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.

"Marketers are now going to think twice about reducing the price," Shiv said.

According to the study, if an experience is pleasurable, the brain will use it to help guide future choices. That conclusion has important implications for marketing that aims to influence perceptions of quality such as expert ratings, peer reviews, information about country of origin, store and brand names and repeated exposure to advertisements.
 

EdWort

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Actually this is true for wine snobs. My Uncle-in-law is one of them. I once filled a fancy expensive wine bottle with 1$ French table wine from Aldi (this was in Germany). He just raved about it (while SWMBO chuckled to ourselves).

Personally, if I found a good tasting bottle of wine at a great price, that would make me enjoy it more.
 

Brakeman_Brewing

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Its funny how true the "wine snob" by price comes out in some people. I have an aunt and uncle who turn their noses up at any bottle of wine under $40, yet when they blindly try an $8 bottle of Smoking Loon Merlot without knowing it they rave about how good it is. Its okay at best in my book.

I dont think I would ever spend more than 15 dollars on a bottle of wine. Its just really not my bag.

For being a moderate wine drinker I have narrowed my selection to labels like Estancia, Sterling and Bogle and I think they are excellent wines, alot of times on sale, and even at regular price the average bottle goes for $10-13.
 

TheJadedDog

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Well, this is not restricted to wine. In general, the more people pay for something whether it is money or some other cost (like time, pain, ect...) the more they will say they are rewarded by it (be it taste or whatever).

This is a phenomenon known as cognitive dissonance and there is a lot of research on the subject. The best research is I have seen discusses differences in the way current college students view their membership in fraternities versus older generations. As laws and colleges have reduced the amount and types of hazing involved in joining a frat, frat members have valued their membership less and less. Ultimately, the more someone has to go through, the higher they value the end result in part because their brain has to convince them that the hardship was worth it.

Personally I think the research on wine prices is lacking as nothing I have seen on it addresses this possible reason for the differences noted in the study.
 

TexLaw

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Looking back at the original post, it seems the point of the study was that the test subjects didn't just trick themselves into thinking it was better, they actually did enjoy it more (as demonstrated by the activity in the medial orbitofrontal cortex). That still applies to everything else.


TL
 

TheJadedDog

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TexLaw said:
Looking back at the original post, it seems the point of the study was that the test subjects didn't just trick themselves into thinking it was better, they actually did enjoy it more (as demonstrated by the activity in the medial orbitofrontal cortex). That still applies to everything else.


TL
The "tricking" is not done on a conscious level so the cortex activity does not rule out cognitive dissonance.
 

EdWort

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TexLaw said:
That doesn't surprise me one bit, and it applies to much more than just wine. I see that effect with just about anything I can think of.
TL
What about an evening in Amsterdam? :D
 

david_42

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Did the same thing with a two-buck chuck's chardonnay and a local WinO. Really got toasted when I told him what it actually was.
 

EdWort

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david_42 said:
Did the same thing with a two-buck chuck's chardonnay and a local WinO. Really got toasted when I told him what it actually was.
Yep, I bet he turned red faced. We've never told SWMBO's uncle.
 

Yooper

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I believe that is true- it seems like a "good bottle" is judged by the price more than the quality.

I'm a reverse snob. I get great pleasure out of serving a wine with dinner and having my guests (who know I'm a beer and wine lover) tell me what a fantastic wine I've chosen. Nearly every time, it's either a homemade wine or a $5 bottle. I LOVE finding a bottle that costs $4.69 and tastes great. My wine cellar is honestly stocked mostly with "cheap" wines.
 

Hopleaf

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I like the animal system of wine. If there is an animal on the label, then drink it.
 

eriktlupus

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EdWort said:
Actually this is true for wine snobs. My Uncle-in-law is one of them. I once filled a fancy expensive wine bottle with 1$ French table wine from Aldi (this was in Germany). He just raved about it (while SWMBO chuckled to ourselves).

Personally, if I found a good tasting bottle of wine at a great price, that would make me enjoy it more.
imagine my suprise when i returned from germany and found an aldi's here in michigan?
 

Loweface

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Generally I would buy cheaper wine. If it tastes good, drink it...
However there is truth to buying more expensive (and not much more expensive) for the consistancy over the actual taste. There is nothing worse than discovering that perfectly cooled bottle is corked. Or (less often) that the second bottle tastes a bit different to the first...
 

sirsloop

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I'll agree that when sitting in a restaurant looking at a menu, you would be more inclined to think that a higher price wine is better. If you actually go on a wine tour and taste a crap load of wine, you can get a feel for what you like in a wine, and what value that property sells for. If you like chardonnay, then maybe $10-12 a bottle is what you are willing to pay for. If its been heavily oaked the price may be higher but that may not be what you like. IDK... in general I think this applies to a lot of things. Is a Ferrari F430 really worth all that money?
 

Tusch

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sirsloop said:
Is a Ferrari F430 really worth all that money?
Yes. :rockin:

And on topic, I am relatively new to wine, but my father is a bit above average in knowledge (though not much of a snob) I love to go wine shopping with him when he prepares for a party or event. Just walking around a nice selection I learn so much about wines and preference. I've found, in again my little experience, that I prefer the 10-14 dollar range. There are several brands that jump up in price, be it for reputation or name dropping, but either no jump or a drop in quality. One of his favorite nice wines is a Vouvray that is usually only about 12 bucks locally.
 

sirsloop

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Tusch said:
Yes. :rockin:
I guess it depends on if you buying it for performance, looks, or simply because its a Ferrari. You do know that a ZO6 (at a fraction of the cost) will outrun a F430? (doesn't look half bad either) :p

Tusch said:
I love to go wine shopping with him when he prepares for a party or event. Just walking around a nice selection I learn so much about wines and preference.
Without tasting the wine how do you know what you like best though? At that point you are going on packaging, name, and what the bottle says the wine should taste like. Who's to say that a $5 bottle of wine doesn't taste the same!

Tusch said:
I've found, in again my little experience, that I prefer the 10-14 dollar range. There are several brands that jump up in price, be it for reputation or name dropping, but either no jump or a drop in quality.
Have you tried $5-10 bottles, or $20-30 bottles? I've had both lousy and great wine in both ranges. While I expect rot gut from a $5 bottle of wine... a few really surprise me. When I try a $20-30 bottle I really expect something out of this world and rarely get WOWed. My favorite is a Vincent dry oaked red, $9.99 from a local winery. I love cabs, oak, and all that expensive stuff... but I just can't see spending $18 on a bottle of cab franc when a $10 bottle of Vincent tastes just as good. Well... I do get the "family discount" so it ends up being a $5 bottle of Vincent :D

I guess what I'm getting at is... try before you buy! A wine tasting trip is a hell of a lot of fun and if you hit up like 10-20 wineries there's a darn good chance you'll will find something that suits your fancy for a heck of a lot cheaper than what a store bought bottle would cost. IDK... another option would be just to buy like 10 bottles of store wine and see what you like best. Its a crap shoot tho... :drunk:
 

Tusch

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sirsloop said:
I guess it depends on if you buying it for performance, looks, or simply because its a Ferrari. You do know that a ZO6 (at a fraction of the cost) will outrun a F430? (doesn't look half bad either) :p


Without tasting the wine how do you know what you like best though? At that point you are going on packaging, name, and what the bottle says the wine should taste like. Who's to say that a $5 bottle of wine doesn't taste the same!
First of all, I am a vette man true and true and would most likely never buy a ferrari in my lifetime, regardless of how fortunate I may find myself in the future. And yes the z06 is impressive, and I hope to drive one soon, friend of mine has one. But have you checked out the zr-1? A little lighter, 130 more horsepower and even easier to mod right off the dealership lot. My dream car, which I have begun searching for a suitable body for, is a 1969 Stingray.

Secondly, I am not buying wine with my dad, I merely like to shop with him because I learn a lot. And the point of the story is that you can get a great bottle of wine without spending much, I was agreeing. And like I said, I am new to wine and am very much so in the experimenting phase. What type of 5 dollar wines do you suggest?
 

stevie

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sirsloop said:
I guess what I'm getting at is... try before you buy! A wine tasting trip is a hell of a lot of fun and if you hit up like 10-20 wineries there's a darn good chance you'll will find something that suits your fancy for a heck of a lot cheaper than what a store bought bottle would cost. IDK... another option would be just to buy like 10 bottles of store wine and see what you like best. Its a crap shoot tho... :drunk:
A good way to try a bunch of local wines is at a wine festival! Then you can pick out what your favorites were and visit those wineries first. Last summer i went to a local wine festival at Allaire SP here in NJ and tasted a lot of local wines. I found that I like blends a lot more than varietals, and of the varietals, cab franc seems to be more consistently to my liking no matter what winery it was from. maybe we have good soil here for that grape.
Of the "fruit wines", I really enjoyed those made at Cream Ridge. They were dry, and they don't add any sugar at all! Most (not all) of the other wineries in NJ seem to sweeten the sh*t out of their berry wines! I like my wines dry and red.

Anyway, sorry for the quick hijack. To stay on topic, I will agree both with the notion that people (even wine snobs) will generally enjoy a wine (or anything) more if it has a large price tag, and that I personally look for the low-priced gems, usually around 10 bucks, I almost never spend more than 15 per bottle. Because there's so many good ones for less than that!
 
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