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How ‘Sip Savvy’ Are You Really?

How ‘Sip Savvy’ Are You Really?

Laurita Winery , Wine Science 🕔July 25, 2016 2 comments

Ever asked yourself how much you really know about wine?

Well, no matter how you answered, we’re here to tell you that you might not know as much as you think! Turns out, we may not either! (Thanks, HuffPo for making us doubt ourselves.)

For starters, you probably think you can tell “the good stuff” from “the cheap stuff”. Right? Not necessarily. You could probably guess if you were offered the kind of wine that comes in pint bottles at the convenience store. It’s easily recognized by the lighter fluid fumes and dumpster grape flavor. But would you know a higher end wine from a well made but inexpensive brand?


Probably not. In a Caltech study, researchers conducted a taste test where three Cabernet Sauvignons were served, listed at five different prices. Regardless of which wine they were served, the subjects reported that the wines with higher price tags were more enjoyable.

Not only did the participants claim greater enjoyment when drinking the wines that were falsely identified as more expensive, but they showed increased activity in the medial orbitofrontal cortex — the region of the brain associated with pleasure.

To be clear: They didn’t just think their wine was more expensive and therefore subjectively like it more. They literally experienced something different.

This reminded us of something we saw a few years back…

Comedian/Magician/Philosophers Penn & Teller once did a similar study. They offered test subjects (diners who had no idea they were human guinea pigs) a variety of bottled waters, curious as to whether a discerning palate could taste the difference.

water bottles

You can click here if you’d like to watch the diners wax positively poetic about the smoothness and minerality of the various waters. All from the same hose, and one with a special ingredient. (As with anything involving Penn & Teller, a language warning applies to the video.)

So clearly, as mere humans we’re susceptible to outside influence on our perceptions. If we think something is going to be especially good, we tend to enjoy it more. Should we feel bad about that? No way!

We like HuffPo’s suggestion. Understand that perception influences taste and reaction. Accept it. Work with it.


Treat yourself to a knockout decanter and a couple of gorgeous glasses. Then chuck your bottle in the trash, light a candle, and you’ve set the stage for some great wine, no matter what it cost.

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