How much does the price of a bottle of wine matter? Quite a lot – to women.
Researchers from the Stockholm School of Economics and Harvard University set out to determine whether knowing how much a bottle of wine cost would affect what people thought of the taste.
They found that disclosing the expensive price of a wine before people tasted it produced considerably higher ratings, although only from women.
“I was surprised. The men didn’t seem to be affected by the price. It might be the way men relate to wine. But the women reacted very strongly to a high price,” said Johan Almenberg, who with co-researcher Anna Dreber of the Stockholm School of Economics and Harvard, conducted the study among 266 volunteers in Boston.
The volunteers tasted one of two Portuguese red wines, one cost $5 a bottle and one $40. One-third of the people tasted the wine without knowing the price, one-third was told the price before the tasting, and one-third learned the price afterwards.
All of the tasters were told to rate the wine on a scale that ranged from undrinkable to perfection.
The researchers, whose findings were published by the American Association of Wine Economists, said only women assigned considerably higher ratings when they were told they were about to drink the expensive wine.
In the blind tasting, the average rating from both sexes was slightly higher for the cheaper wine than for the more expensive, showing that most people do not prefer expensive wines.
Almenberg does not know why the cost of a bottle of wine should matter so much to women but not men.
“It may be something evolutionary,” he said. “If you look for what women find attractive in a man, the paycheck is probably not that important for either sex, but a lot of women attach more importance to that than men do.”
In a survey by Vinexpo, the international wine and spirits exhibition that takes place in Bordeaux, France next month, researchers found that nearly three-quarters of women said price determines their choice of wine.
Vinexpo, and wine magazines, questioned 4,300 women in France, Germany, Japan, Britain and the United States about what they drank, how often and where they bought it for the survey.