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Pricey Wine

November 13, 2008

The price of a wine arbitrarily influences how pleasurable it is to drink.


Is the taste of wine all in your head?…I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.
Not surprisingly, expensive wines are often perceived to be of higher quality than cheap ones. And indeed, a recent study shows that in the brain, this perception becomes reality. Baba Shiv is a professor of marketing at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business. He and his colleagues scanned volunteers’ brain activity as they sipped wine. Some were told the wine cost $90 a bottle, and others only $5.

BABA SHIV (Stanford University): Indeed, the brain experiences a lot more pleasure when the wine is higher priced than when it is lower priced. Keep in mind that it was the same wine that was delivered.

HIRSHON: Shiv says the anticipation of pleasure stimulates the actual pleasure center of the brain, making it more active. So, if you believe an expensive wine tastes better, then it probably will. I’m Bob Hirshon for AAAS, the science society.