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Do More Expensive Wines Taste Better? Evidence from a Large Sample of Blind Tastings*

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  08 June 2012

Robin Goldstein
Fearless Critic Media, 2011B Bouldin Avenue, Austin, TX 78704. Corresponding author (Goldstein).
Johan Almenberg*
Department of Economics, Stockholm School of Economics, and the Research Institute of Industrial Economics, Stockholm.
Anna Dreber
Department of Economics, Stockholm School of Economics, and Program for Evolutionary Dynamics,Harvard University. E-mail:
John W. Emerson
Department of Statistics, Yale University. E-mail:
Alexis Herschkowitsch
Fearless Critic Media, 2011B Bouldin Avenue, Austin, TX 78704. Corresponding author (Goldstein).
Jacob Katz
Fearless Critic Media, 2011B Bouldin Avenue, Austin, TX 78704. Corresponding author (Goldstein).
Corresponding author. E-mail:


Individuals who are unaware of the price do not derive more enjoyment from more expensive wine. In a sample of more than 6,000 blind tastings, we find that the correlation between price and overall rating is small and negative, suggesting that individuals on average enjoy more expensive wines slightly less. For individuals with wine training, however, we find indications of a non-negative relationship between price and enjoyment. Our results are robust to the inclusion of individual fixed effects, and are not driven by outliers: when omitting the top and bottom deciles of the price distribution, our qualitative results are strengthened, and the statistical significance is improved further. These findings suggest that non-expert wine consumers should not anticipate greater enjoyment of the intrinsic qualities of a wine simply because it is expensive or is appreciated by experts. (JEL Classification: L15, L66, M30, Q13)

Copyright © American Association of Wine Economists 2008

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The findings reported here are discussed at length in Robin Goldstein's book The Wine Trials (Fearless Critic Media, 2008). We thank Jacopo Anselmi, Zoe Chance, Shane Frederick, Richard Friberg, Barry Goldstein, Erik Grönqvist, Daniel Horwitz, Roy Ip, Magnus Johannesson, Thomas Pfeiffer, Hal Stubbs, Sue Stubbs and an anonymous referee for helpful comments and suggestions. Johan Almenberg thanks the Ragnar and Torsten Söderberg Foundations for financial support, and Johan Almenberg and Anna Dreber thank the Jan Wallander and Tom Hedelius Foundation for financial support. The Program for Evolutionary Dynamics is sponsored by J. Epstein.


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