Is Expensive Wine Actually Better?

This has been a controversial question for quite a few decades and even today, opinions differ. Some believe that there is little or no difference between a 15$ bottle of wine and a 150$ one. In order to prove their point, they conduct all sorts of “blind” tasting experiments that usually embarrass the experts. Others however firmly believe that there is a substantial difference between cheap and expensive wine, taking into consideration several factors such as yield, processing, storage or age. A point that everyone agrees on is that drinking and tasting wine is a very intimate and subjective experience, which can be often influenced by a person’s mood, company or surroundings.

Some say the price tag is meaningless

             Is Expensive Wine Actually Better?

Is Expensive Wine Actually Better?

Many journalists and even scientists set out to answer the question of whether expensive wine is actually better. The majority of studies seem to show that the price tag attached to a bottle of wine is mainly the result of marketing and that there is very little difference in taste.

This is how a study would usually proceed. It starts off with anywhere from two to two hundred people tasting different wines without knowing which is which. These people can be experts or just the ordinary consumer. Most of the time, regular people can’t tell the difference between the cheap wine and the more expensive one. What’s more, in some cases, studies have shown that the normal consumer will actually prefer the taste of a cheap wine. True enough, people with some experience in wine tasting were mostly able to correctly identify the more expensive wine and its characteristics.

But there have been some embarrassing experiments as well. For instance, during one study, two experts were served the same white wine. However, red food coloring was added in one of the glasses and it turned out that the experts could not tell the difference. They went on describing the white wine by using terms usually associated with reds. A similar situation was created when people were served the same wine, but under different labels – one was said to be expensive and one was supposedly cheap. The result was that the majority of testers considered the “cheaper” wine worse than the “expensive” one, even though they tasted the same thing. The temperature of the wine was also demonstrated to have a great impact on the taste.

Others believe the price of the wine is proportional to its quality

             What some experts argue is the fact that most of these experiments described above reveal nothing more than exceptions, which are turned into a rule by journalists in order to have a greater impact on the public. Of course, it takes an experimented palate to tell the difference, but that doesn’t mean the difference isn’t there.

They say that discerning the quality of a more expensive wine is as easy as taking a look at its production process. The grapes used in the production of cheap wine, for instance, are cultivated on flats. On the other hand, for expensive wines, grapevines are cultivated on the hillside, because drainage stresses the hill and the grapes, forcing the vines to yield fewer crops. This, in turn, means that the flavour of the grapes will be much more concentrated. The use of pesticides or chemicals is another clear-cut difference between expensive and inexpensive wines. Storage is another important factor. In the case of expensive brands, the wine is kept in oak barrels, which means that, in time, the flavours of the oak (such as vanilla or baking spice) are transferred onto the wine. Furthermore, about 2% of the wine kept in such a barrel evaporates every year, making it even more concentrated and powerful.

Clearly, valid points are present on both sides of the argument, which is why the issue is still debated today. It seems that, at present, the decision of whether or not expensive wine is actually better is up to you. This is why any expert will recommend that you go out there and experiment with different tastes, regardless of the price tag!

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