Do wine prices relate to taste?

The book Freakonomics created an entire genera of reading-which I am fanatically in love with.  They've recently expanded to radio, doing pod casts and other medium format pieces that are totally awesome.  Geeky economics met geeky wine in this interview, and I love every second.

The interesting subjects;

  1. In a study of 6,000 blind taste testings, people did not like wines that were more expensive, they preferred wines that were less expensive.
  2. In another study, when a panel of judges rated the same wine twice only one judge gave it the same score both times.  This seems to prove that wine ratings-specifically the 100 point scale-are subjective.  And remind you, we are talking about experts in this one, not just average consumers.
  3. Consumers should pick a wine that has a nice label and doesn't cost very much.

It seems that having an expert recommend an expensive wine is a bad idea.  The empirical evidence is clear.  But, I do think that a wine expert will be able to help you find wines you like and at a price that you are comfortable with more effectively than if you were to go to the grocery store and randomly select a wine that has a nice label and is cheap.

A wine expert should ask you questions like 'What are the last couple wines that you really enjoyed?', 'How much are you looking to spend?', 'What are you going to eat with this?', 'Is this a gift?', after asking these questions they should be able to guide you to a couple choices that will suit your needs better than a random selection of red or white.

There is an article on reviews and the dichotomy between ratings, and sommeliers coming up soon.  Cheers!

Check out the full length article here.

Check out the working paper #16 from the American Association of Wine Experts here.

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December 2010
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