Wine Value in Spotlight after Marked-Up Bottles Earn High Ratings

when having a higher price tag, a bottle of cheap wine is perceived as tasting better

By Jonny Lupsha, Wondrium Staff Writer

New studies show high price tags affect our enjoyment of wine. Although devoted experts may not be fooled, cheaper wines presented as expensive ones earn higher marks from the public than when told their true market value. What does this mean for buying wine based on asking price?

Woman looking at wine label
New studies show that consumers are likely to think a bottle of wine is automatically of better quality because it has a higher price tag. Photo By Aleksandar Karanov / Shutterstock

Blind taste tests can be points of embarrassment for their subjects, especially when they’re fooled into thinking one thing is another. However, they can be boons for bargain-priced food and drink companies, leveling the playing field with premium brands. New studies show that when given a cheap wine that’s presented as a finer one, consumers in focus groups will rate the cheap wine higher than they would if they’re told its real price up front.

Is it so simple to make a cheap wine taste better by just lying to your dinner guests? In her video series The Everyday Guide to Wine, Master of Wine Jennifer Simonetti-Bryan said there’s nothing wrong with considering your budget when going to a wine store.

What’s in a Price Tag?

A wealth of selections from which to choose can overwhelm any shopper, especially when it comes to as esoteric a subject as wine. Judging by price seldom puts us at ease, either. What should you do if you’re the type of person who has no idea how much to spend on wine?

“The risk with this strategy, or should I say lack of strategy, is that you may walk out with something that you spent way too much on,” Simonetti-Bryan said. “Or you may walk out with something you bought too cheaply and have unrealistic expectations about how it will taste.”

She said that one of the best favors you can do for yourself is to plan out your own personal price range before you even enter the store and don’t go outside that range.

“Your range is something you can easily communicate, and trust me, the people at the store want you to be happy, because they want you to come back,” Simonetti-Bryan said. “Don’t assume something that’s expensive is always better, though; do a comparison shop. Remember, you can find incredible values at any price point for every region, especially Chile, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa.”

In Vino Veritas

In the digital age, online wine shopping has also become popular. In The Everyday Guide to Wine, Simonetti-Bryan uses as a source for viewers who wish to shop online. Additionally, she said, it’s wise to look for online databases that let shoppers compare prices in wine stores worldwide, such as

Of course, like any other kind of online shopping, wine shopping involves being able to find reputable sellers to avoid headache.

“When you shop online, make sure that the shipping policy is clear,” she said. “Many sites have very slow delivery—a week, or even many weeks. Also, beware of phantom inventory—wine deals that aren’t really available, so that you end up buying a different wine.”

When it comes to finding sellers, there are many tools you can use to separate the wheat from the chaff. Researching individual sellers online can help, while the oldest business tool of them all—word of mouth—is vital for both retailers and specific wines.

“Look for real reviews from actual customers,” Simonetti-Bryan said. “How can you tell if they’re real? Not all will be glowing, so some will be actually kind of lukewarm, but hopefully most will be positive.”

With a budget in mind and a reliable seller, all that’s left in choosing the right wine for you is deciding your personal taste.

Edited by Angela Shoemaker, Wondrium Daily