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Expectations Influence Sense Of Taste

Expectations Influence Sense Of Taste

BrainWine tastes different to those who are given information on the product before a wine tasting, tests where the test people received information on the wine before and after the tasting have shown.

Many a wine grower trembles at the prospect of a visit from Robert Parker, one of the most famous wine critics in the world. His “Parker Points” have a similar impact to the Roman Emperor’s thumb, deciding the success of a winery instead of life and death.

The extent to which product information like Parker’s ratings influence the consumer is revealed in a study by Michael Siegrist, Professor of Consumer Behavior at the Institute for Environmental Decisions, and his post-doc Marie-Eve Cousin from ETH Zurich, which was published in the journal Appetite.

The two scientists wanted to find out how information of that type influences the sensory experience by testing their hypothesis that the wine critic’s opinion affects the sense of taste – and not just the rating.

Good and bad information

163 test people tasted the Argentinean red wine “Clos de Los Siete Mendoza” (2006), which Robert Parker had given 92 points out of 100 and thus had rated as an exceptional wine.

The two scientists divided the subjects into five groups: one was told about Parker’s positive appraisal before the tasting; the second group also received the information beforehand, but was told that the wine had only scored 72 Parker Points and was thus average.

Two more groups received the positive or negative information after they had tasted the wine but before they had rated it themselves. The final group was not given any information at all and served as the control group.

The test people, who tasted the wine separately, were asked to rate the wine on a 10-point scale, ranging from “didn’t like it at all” to “excellent”. They were also supposed to state how much they would be prepared to pay for the wine.

Source: ETH Zurich

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