Why Your Taste In Wine Changes Based On Expectations


You already know that expectations can colour your experiences, but when it comes to wine, it’s especially true. This video from Science Friday explains why our expectations and our environment plays such a huge role in how we perceive this ancient drink.

Chemically speaking, there’s very little difference between one type or bottle of wine and another — but taste-wise, there can be a huge difference in flavour. However, judging quality is a much more difficult endeavour, and Dr Brian Wansink, Director of Cornell University’s Food and Brand Lab, explains how social cues, the environment we’re in, and our own expectations can drastically change how we judge the quality of a wine that we drink. He explains that often just being told a storied and rich history about a winemaker can make people believe that wine is better, and price plays a significant factor too. Even the design on the label plays a role, which the video explains.

This is also why it’s so difficult to objectively judge wine quality, and ultimately — as most wine lovers will tell you — your best bet for finding a good bottle is to find someone whose palate is like yours, likes the types of wine you like, and go with their recommendation. Alternatively, talk to the buyer at your local bottle shop, tell them what you like to drink, and let them find the good stuff for you. Pay less attention to scores and price tags and more to your own sense of taste, and you’ll enjoy every bottle you buy.

Out of the Bottle: Wine Psychology


  • My experience:

    Expectation: You’re expecting wine to have chocolaty, smokey undertones that make you think of summer in Tuscany
    Reality: It’s wine. As long as it doesn’t taste like bacon, it’s probably okay.

      • If it’s marketed as baconwine, then no, nothing wrong with that. But if it’s like this:

        Homer: “Hmm… Bold, refreshing, and something I can’t quite put my finger on.”
        [at the Red Tick Beer brewery, dogs are swimming in the tank]
        Man: [takes a sip] Hmm… Needs more dog.

        Then you’re going to have a bad time.

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