Exploiting the inattentive: The posted wine rating may not match the wine on the shelf


The Washington Post did a spot check of area wine stores and found that of the "shelf talkers" signs (those things that describe the wine and tell you what score it received from Wine Spectator magazine) it found, a quarter of them were incorrect, usually by attributing a good score to the correct wine vineyard but from a different year. So when you cruise the wine store, make sure to double-check that the information placard actually matches the wine it's posted next to.

Comments (7)
  1. Steve Nutt says:

    I live in Thailand and have not tasted wine since I left Australia three years ago. A friend from the UK brought out two bottles last week and we are saving them for Xmas Day.

    Right now, I don’t care what vineyard, what year or what score it may have received from Wine Spectator magazine. Cheers !!!

  2. Fee Waybill says:

    I don’t have a palate that can discern the differences between any two wines, nor the insight to really understand a review on the sign.

    On most things, the only review I give creedence is my own.  If I don’t like (insert whatever product here), then I know not to try that again.

  3. Drak says:

    Isn’t rating wine just as subjective as rating food?

    I know places where one can get certain foods that are not as salty as they would be in the country of origin. These places are marked down in the rating, but I for one enjoy less salty food, so in my book the place is marked up.

    It’s all in the palate of the taster :)

  4. John says:

    Who is full of more bullshit: wine connoisseurs or audiophiles?

    Just buy a $10 wine and put it in a $100 bottle; double blind tests have shown that people enjoy the exact same wine more if they think it is more expensive.  Also, if your guests prefer red wine just serve them some white wine with a few drops of red food coloring; they won’t notice the difference.

  5. Nick Lamb says:

    Sure John, but the same suggestions works for e.g. pharmaceuticals. Tell people the drug they’ve been given has effect X when it really does Y, and you’ll see effects from Y muted and mild effects of X exhibited despite no drug to cause them. That’s not a hypothetical – it’s an actual research result. That’s why placebo testing is so important.

    I don’t like wine, had no reason to acquire an ability to tell one from another, but I was surprised to find that even I could tell that the Chinese wine we tried was really bad (we annoyed our hosts by conducting blinded experiments while other visitors tried to enjoy the wine) and that I could tell several famous wines apart from one another without prompting from e.g. labels.

  6. Cooney says:

    Maybe the expensive bottle trick works, but the white wine thing is right out – white wine is something i avoid mostly due to the aftertaste.

  7. John says:

    But how much of that is due to your perception of white wine?

    There was a test done where a bunch of wine "experts" were given two wines to review – one red and one white.  Every single one of them used terms and phrases associated with each type of wine to describe them (I am not a wine aficionado, so I don’t really know the terms used).  After the test, it was revealed that the two wines were in fact the exact same white wine; the "red" wine just had a few drops of food coloring.

    I think this kind of thing probably only affects wine snobs, though; people who pay more attention to the vineyard and year than the taste.  The average guy probably knows what he likes and doesn’t like and would be able to tell the difference.  I don’t drink wine, so I couldn’t tell you one way or the other.

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