wine labelsChanging the wine label affects not only the opinion of restaurant wine but also the opinion of the food served with it according to an American study. Customers at a popular student restaurant were given a free glass of Cabernet Sauvignon with their meal. Half of the free wine was poured from bottles showing the name of a prestigious Californian vineyard while the rest showed their origin as North Dakota – a very unfashionable American wine region. Unbeknown to the diners, the wine was the same in both cases - an inexpensive branded wine.

pouring wineThose drinking what they thought was California wine rated the wine and food as tasting better and ate more of their food. They were also more likely to make return reservations. While those drinking the ‘less fashionable’ wine voted with their forks and feet, eating less of their meal and leaving without indicating whether they would return.

It comes down to expectations. If you think a wine will taste good then it will. And if your expectations of the wine in your glass are low then you are more likely to judge it harshly.

Those taking part in the study knew that wine from California is expensive and so expected it to taste refined, because high-priced consumer products affect our psyche (compare champagne’s reputation to other sparkling wines made in the same way). While North Dakota wine is cheap to buy and so was thought to be ‘plonk’.

Brussel sproutsBelieving your wine to be nothing special hurts both the wine and the entire meal.

So what can we learn from this experiment? That we humans are easily swayed by labels. But we don’t have to let it spoil our wine drinking.

PG Wine Reviews

White wineSilver Ghost Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon 2014

£5.99 Majestic

A refined red that tastes soft and fruity with a sweet finish: expect blackcurrant and cocoa flavours.

La Casa de Sitios de Bodega Spanish Sauvignon Blanc 2014

£5.99 Co-op (down from £6.99 until February 23)

A nice mix of fresh flavours in this Sauvignon, which isn't dominated by the usual gooseberry – find light gooseberry mixed with mandarin, melon and apple.

De Bortoli The Astronomer Australian Chardonnay 2014

£6.99 Majestic

Hints of creamy pineapple and banana, plus unripe peach and some nuttiness. Fruity and creamy but not rich.

Era Costana Spanish Rioja Crianza 2012

£7 Sainsbury's

This wine not only tastes like blackberry pie but it needs to be matched to it too – or something equally fruity like a jam-filled sponge cake perhaps.

Tumbarumba Australian Chardonnay 2014

£12 M&S

A really sophisticated wine with flavours of digestive biscuit, lemon and lime plus some sharpness that feels like you've just sucked on a 50 pence piece.

This article also appeared as Paula's Wines of the Week on

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