Wondering how to make that £3 bottle of plonk taste better? Tell your guests it cost more, says new research

Hands up: who's a wine snob? If you’re the kind of person who turns their nose up at a cheap bottle of vino, we’ve got news for you: your price prejudice could be affecting the taste.


That’s right, according to a new study published in the Journal of Marketing Research, wine tastes better if we think it is more expensive.


Scientists found that our preconceptions surrounding cheap wine created a placebo effect that changed the chemistry of the brain. However, masquerading cheap vino as a fine vintage made the drinker experience the wine in the same physical way as it would if it were more pricey. 


Bernd Weber from the University of Bonn in Germany and co-author of the report, said: “Studies have shown that people enjoy identical products such as wine or chocolate more if they have a higher price tag.


“However, almost no research has examined the neural and psychological process required for such marketing placebo effects to occur.”


Participants in the study were told that they would consume five wines priced at £55, £28, £22, £6 and £3, while their brains were scanned to measure their response.

In reality, they were given only three different wines with two different price tags. Sneaky, eh? The results showed significant prejudice, both in how they rated the taste and how the pleasure centres in the brain changed.


The study found that the volume of grey matter in certain areas of the brain (the striatum, the posterior insula and the dorsal medial prefrontal cortex) moderated the taste according to the effects of expectancy.  


So, price prejudice is a real thing? Well, we need more research please as we need to know.


In the meantime, go forth and decant that cheap bottle of wine that has been lying around and maybe, just maybe, it might make it more palatable.