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Expensive Wine Taste Better. Does it?

When a bottle costs more, the reward center in the brain plays a trick on us. As for the brain: Expensive wine tastes better!

How much you paid for a bottle of wine affects how much you enjoy it. If you spent $100 on a bottle of wine, or chocolate – you made yourself a deal: you will surely like its test and enjoy self-confident due to an exelent decision you made.

Plenty of studies have shown it. But a new study claim that this is more than a matter of preference – our brain is fall for the trick induced by the “marketing placebo effect.” As with placebo medications, it has an effect solely due to ascribed properties: “Quality has its price!”

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A high price increased the expectation that the product will also taste better and in turn, affects taste processing regions in the brain.

“However, it has so far been unclear how the price information ultimately causes more expensive wine to also be perceived as having a better taste in the brain,” says Prof. Bernd Weber, Acting Director of the Center for Economics and Neuroscience (CENs) at the University of Bonn.

15 women and 15 men, with an average age of around 30 years given a small amount to drink while they were in an MRI scanner. The same red wine was given to volunteers three times and they were also given the price each time: 3, 6, and 18 euros. The retails price of the wine was actually 12 euros (about $14). In each round, they were given sips of wine along with the price and asked to rank the taste of each wine.

All of the participants stated that the more expensive wine tasted better and the MRI scanner confirmed this.

“As expected, the subjects stated that the wine with the higher price tasted better than an apparently cheaper one,” reports Professor Hilke Plassmann from the INSEAD Business School, “However, it was not important whether the participants also had to pay for the wine or whether they were given it for free.” The identical wine leads to a better taste experience when a price tag was higher – a greater quality expectation was associated.

“The exciting question is now whether it is possible to train the reward system to make it less receptive to such placebo marketing effects,” says Prof. Weber. This may be possible by training one’s own physical perception – such as taste – to a greater extent.




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