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Expensive wines taste better not on the taste buds, but on the brain

For the study, published in the journal Scientific Reports, the team requested participants to lie in an MRI scanner while small amounts of good quality red wine with a retail bottle price of 12 Euros were poured into their mouths. But, the prices exhibited in front of their eyes varied from around 36 Euros a bottle to 18 Euros.


By   |  Updated On : August 16, 2017 05:28 PM
Expensive wines taste better not on the taste buds, but on the brain. (File Photo)

Expensive wines taste better not on the taste buds, but on the brain. (File Photo)

New Delhi :  

Connoisseurs of wine; do you like to consume only expensive wines because you are of the opinion that they taste the best? If the answer is yes, then here's some interesting news for you. 

According to a new study conducted by researchers at the University of Bonn in Germany, a bottle of expensive wine seems to taste better because the reward centre in the brain fools us into expecting better taste when it is expensive, which in turn influences the brain's taste processing regions. So when you sip on costlier wines, you believe that it is good wine and therefore you find the taste enjoyable. 

"The reward and motivation system is activated more significantly with higher prices and apparently increases the taste experience in this way," said Professor Bernd Weber, Acting Director at the University of Bonn in Germany.

For the study, published in the journal Scientific Reports, the team requested participants to lie in an MRI scanner while small amounts of good quality red wine with a retail bottle price of 12 Euros were poured into their mouths. But, the prices exhibited in front of their eyes varied from around 36 Euros a bottle to 18 Euros.

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The researchers evaluated how different prices caused corresponding taste experiences in the brain, even if the wine taste was not different."As expected, the subjects stated that the wine with the higher price tasted better than an apparently cheaper one," said Hilke Plassmann, Professor at the INSEAD Business School in France.

The results confirmed that identical wine leads to a better taste experience when a better quality expectation is related with the wine due to its price. Basically, the reward and motivation system plays a trick on us and that is the reason why marketing tricks - such as using a 'posh' label - work so well.

"The exciting question is now whether it is possible to train the reward system to make it less receptive to such placebo marketing effects," Weber said. This may be possible by learning to train one’s own physical perception - such as taste - to a greater extent, he observed.

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First Published: Wednesday, August 16, 2017 05:10 PM


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