Many people think that the only good wine is expensive wine. Unfortunately, not everyone can afford to buy expensive wine, even for the most special of occasions. That is okay, because when you come right down to it, the majority of people actually can’t tell the difference between expensive wines and cheaper versions. If you are a wine merchant, it is better for you to try and promote the less expensive wines. This is because you are going to make a lot more money by selling in volume than you will if you only have a handful of customers who can afford the expensive stuff.
Each week, postdoctoral students at Harvard University carry out experiments and research, and they present their findings to other members of the Harvard Society of Fellows at a formal dinner. One of these experiments involved trying to figure out if people could tell the difference between cheap and expensive wines. The results showed that unless you are a wine connoisseur, you aren’t likely to notice much, if any difference in the quality and flavor of the various wines.
The authors of “Think Like a Freak”, a follow-up to the popular book, “Freakonomics,” is about the experience of authors Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner, who created this experiment about wine and whether or not people can tell the difference between cheap and expensive wines. The experiment shows that you can easily save a lot of money on wine, because the people you serve it to aren’t likely to notice any difference.
“The results could not have been better for me. There was no significant difference in the rating across the four wines; the cheap wine did just as well as the expensive ones,” said Levitt.
Levitt said that he was surprised that the ratings were different between two different wines when the samples actually came from the same bottle. So, his experiment showed that most people can’t tell the difference between good wine and cheap wine, they also couldn’t even tell the difference between two samples of the same wine.
In the book, wine was portrayed as an essential part of the weekly Harvard Society of Fellows dinner, and the society has one heck of a wine cellar, with some of the most expensive wines you can imagine. Now, the majority of the Fellows consider themselves to be wine connoisseurs, and they all felt that that the only good wine is expensive wine. They were about to be challenged on this assumption.
So, what Levitt did was take two bottles of expensive wine from the wine cellar, as well as cheaper wines that are made from the same grapes. He had the Fellows taste four different cups of wine, two with the expensive brands, and two with the less expensive wines. Can you figure out what the result was? Yes, you guessed it. The Fellows were unable to tell the difference between what they considered to be fine wines with the less expensive counterparts. The findings have been detailed by Levitt on the Freakonomics blog.
Levitt and co-author Dubner will fully admit that this was in no way a true scientific experiment. But, they got some pretty interesting results, and these are results you can use to save money the next time you are hosting any type of event where wine is to be served. You can spend $15 on a bottle rather than $50, and most people are never going to know the difference. They are simply going to enjoy their wine, and not think about how much was actually spent on it (although they will like think you spent a fortune).
Featured photo credit: PortoBay Events via flickr.com