Wine Tips


Can one really tell the difference between expensive and cheaper wines? This is a common question I get all the time. For a layperson, does an expensive bottle actually taste better than a RM100 bottle? Take away all the factors of pricing, labels, vintage, aging and experience. Pour yourself a glass of wine, take a taste and ask yourself if you do know if the wine is RM100 or RM1,000? And my honest answer is most of the time, no.

But then, it also depends if it is a blind tasting or otherwise. Somehow, I find that knowing the bottle & price does influence one’s verdict. I’ve had so many wine tasting events and most of the participants can’t tell the difference. Most of them would also have their own preference bias. Almost always, in fact, the quality of the inexpensive bottles will surprise us. Especially so when we are comparing a RM1,000 bottle of wine to a RM100 one.

So, what makes a bottle expensive? It boils down to the cost of producing the bottle. Location, raw materials, aging, time, and terroir each plays a role. And of course, the “perceive value” by the consumer.

I experienced a blind tasting with a RM700 bottle and a RM189 bottle once. Both of the same varietal (cabernet sauvignon). Guess what? About 70% of us preferred the RM189 wine. Only 30% could identify the more expensive one.

Its hard to believe, I know. But here is a research to prove the hypothesis of “perceived value”.

In 2017, The University of Bonn ran an experiment to test the “marketing placebo effect”. It’s where identical products are preceived differently based on the price difference for each product. 30 people participated and rated the wines. They were shown the cost of the wine before tasting it.

“The subjects reports that the wine with the higher price tasted better than the cheaper one.” said Professor Hilke Plassmann.

”Identical wine leads to a better taste experience when a greater quality expectation is associated with the wine due to its price.”

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Various studies have been done to determine if an expensive bottle is any different to an inexpensive one. In the end, I believe that a super priced wine doesn’t always equal better. Sometimes, it’s also about the company that you’re sharing the wine with. My usual spend averages RM120 per bottle but I may splurge on occasions. Be it special guests, a joyful occasion, or simply to enjoy a favourite bottle.

Here’s a great example. A few days back, we had a tasting of a new wine, the Anakena Birdman Cabernet Sauvignon. Along with it, nasi lemak and siu yuk (roast pork). Being new to us, I had no expectation of this wine. I must say that we were most pleasantly surprised with its quality! Best of all was its price (unknown to us in the beginning) being on promotion at only RM65! Goes without saying, they flew right off the shelf!

Guys, don’t take my word or anyone’s on how good a bottle is. Try it yourself and you be the judge. It’s good to have recommendations but best to try it for yourself. My motto always is “the more you drink, the better you get”.

That’s it for now. Till the next time, stay home, stay safe and remember to explore our Birdman Wine Sale.

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