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(PHOTO: JOHN BURGESS/THE PRESS DEMOCRAT)

How Wine Tasting is More — and Less — of a Scam Than You Thought

• January 28, 2013 • 4:00 AM

Labels, prices, reputations. They’re as much a part of your wine-tasting experience as the juice itself.

How do we decide what makes one wine better than another? Expectation-influencing variables like a label and price make a big difference—just as they do for other “experiential goods” like food or hotels. With wine, however, blind taste tests by experts are supposed to eliminate those external cues. But it turns out the experts may be no more reliable than the rest of us. In these data points, drawn from his new book, Mind Over Mind: The Surprising Power of Expectations, journalist Chris Berdik takes a sobering look at our double vision.

This annotated photo originally appeared in the January/February 2013 issue of Pacific Standard magazine under the title “In Vino, No Veritas.”

Pacific Standard Staff
Pacific Standard grapples with the nation’s biggest social, political, and cultural issues by focusing on what shapes human behavior—the psychological tendencies, hidebound customs, material conditions, prevailing institutions, and galvanizing ideas that propel modern life.

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