Scientists have been conducting research into how we analyse wine according to how expensive it is. Their research shows that our brains are wired to enjoy higher priced wine more, even if the samples tested are actually from the same bottle, Ideal Wine Company finds out how price can impact taste.
This provides evidence towards the claim that our brain tricks us into thinking more expensive wine is better wine.
The experiment comprised of researchers from the University of Bonn and INSEAD Business School asking participants to try wine samples. The scientists gave the participants the same wine priced at €12 over and over, although they showed them different price tags ranging from €3 to €6 to €18.
During the tastings, the subjects’ brains were monitored using a nuclear spin tomograph.
Thirty subjects, all aged around 30, took part in the experiment. They were each given 45 euros to spend and given 1mm of wine at a time through tubes leading directly into their mouths.
As the scientists predicted, the subjects were convinced that the wine that was priced higher tasted the best. Interestingly, it didn’t seem to matter whether they had to pay for the wine themselves, or were given it for free. The results were the same in both cases.
Two parts of brain analysed
During the experiment, scientists focused on two specific parts of the brain. One is the medial pre-frontal cortex. This appeared to compute price into their expectation of flavour, and therefore heavily influence the subject’s evaluation of the wine.
The other part of the brain is the ventral striatum, which works as a reward and motivation system. It’s activated much more with higher prices, and also increases the enjoyment of the flavour based on this activation.
Can we train the brain?
It’s not clear from this experiment whether people can actively train their taste buds to change the effect of brain impulses based on price. This could massively effect people’s taste being influenced by marketing.