Practical research results we can all use

November 28th, 2008

Here are some results of practical research from which many of us can immediately benefit.

Robin Goldstein et al., Do more expensive wines taste better? Evidence from a large sample of blind tastings, American Association of Wine Economists, Working Papers, April 2008,

Individuals who are unaware of the price do not derive more enjoyment from more expensive wine. In a sample of more than 6,000 blind tastings, we find that the correlation between price and overall rating is small and negative, suggesting that individuals on average enjoy more expensive wines slightly less. For individuals with wine training, however, we find indications of a positive relationship between price and enjoyment. Our results are robust to the inclusion of individual fixed effects, and are not driven by outliers: when omitting the top and bottom deciles of the price distribution, our qualitative results are strengthened, and the statistical significance is improved further. Our results indicate that both the prices of wines and wine recommendations by experts may be poor guides for non-expert wine consumers.

Jonah Lehrer compares this to an earlier Stanford study. One possible takeaway point: avoid wine training, it will only diminish your ability to enjoy wine. Another possible lesson to be learned: maybe going into engineering wasn’t such a great idea, after all. (spotted on daily dish)