The title of this blog post quotes the second line of the abstract of Goldstein et al.’s much ballyhooed 2008 tech report, Do More Expensive Wines Taste Better? Evidence from a Large Sample of Blind Tastings.
The first sentence of the abstract is
Individuals who are unaware of the price do not derive more enjoyment from more expensive wine.
Perhaps not surprisingly, given the easy target wine snobs make, the popular press has picked up on the first sentence of the tech report. For example, the Freakonomics blog/radio entry of the same name quotes the first line, ignores the qualification, then concludes
Wishing you the happiest of holiday seasons, and urging you to spend $15 instead of $50 on your next bottle of wine. Go ahead, take the money you save and blow it on the lottery.
In case you’re wondering about whether to buy me a cheap or expensive bottle of wine, keep in mind I’ve had classical “wine training”. After ten minutes of training with some side by side examples, you too will be able to distinguish traditional old world wine from 3-buck Chuck in a double blind tasting. Whether you’ll be able to tell a quality village Volnay from a premier cru’s another matter.
There’s another problem with the experimental design. Wines that stand out in a side-by-side tasting are not necessarily the ones you want to pair with food or even drink all night on their own.
The other problem is that some people genuinely prefer the 3 buck Chuck. Most Americans I’ve observed, including myself, start out enjoying sweeter new world style wines and then over time gravitate to more structured (tannic), complex (different flavors) and acidic wines.