If you ever wondered why wine advertisements seems to be a bit on the excessive side, there is a reason for it. Vivid descriptions of wine are now believed to actually make wine taste better.
The placebo effect is nothing new, but researchers at the University of Adelaide wanted to find out for themselves if even wine lovers could be swayed by a few, simple, pretty words. To start off, the researchers collected a group of 126 regular wine consumers to taste-test a set of three different wines—Chardonnay, Riesling, and Sauvignon Blanc—in three different settings. Then, they gave each of the test subjects three different descriptions. The first subject had no description at all, the second had a basic one, and the third had an elaborate one.
You can guess what happened next. The setting, and its respective descriptions, quickly had a hold on the test subjects. When people get invited to food and drink studies, you’d think they suspect some kind of trick like this, if those coffee commercials were any warning! In the end, it’s probably true that you should never underestimate the power of a placebo.
Writing in the Food Research International journal, the researchers wrote that, “The elaborate information level evoked higher expectations before tasting the wines, plus resulted in higher liking ratings and elicitation of more intense positive and less negative emotions.”
With results being pretty consistent throughout the study, it was noticed that people were even willing to pay more for the same type of wine as long as they were under the impression that it was fancier, even if it tasted the same. Of course, there is the margin of error that people may have just said they’d be willing to pay to save face; after all, people who could regularly afford expensive wine don’t have to go to free wine-tastings.
According to the Telegraph, study leader Sue Bastian wrote that, “Choosing the right wine at the point of sale whether in a wine store, in a restaurant, or online can be a difficult task. The importance of wine labels and label information has been widely studied and it’s been clearly shown that they represent useful information which influences consumer choice. Our study extends these findings, showing that wine descriptions also influence our whole wine consumption experience. Cleverly written wine and producer descriptions when coupled with unbranded wine tasting can evoke more positive emotions, increasing our positive perception of the wine, our estimation of its quality, and the amount we would be willing to pay for it.”