Semantron 23 Summer 2023

Behavioural economics and wine

intense in flavour. It was also estimated as 25% more expensive. Another study in 2012 by Piqueras- Fiszman and Spence observed the weights and prices of 275 wines in an Oxford wine shop. They discovered that for every additional £1, the weight of a wine bottle increases by 8 grams. This most likely due to its associations with old world wine, where design had more design restraints (thus more weight). This connects the idea of wine bottle weight with vintage, tradition and class. This correlation may be unconsciously picked up by consumers, so (especially for wines using the aforementioned traditional prestigious, traditional stately, and prestigious designs) a heavy bottle should be considered. Charles Spence also questioned whether the punt of a wine bottle has any bearing on how the wine is perceived by consumers, as this seemingly has similar connotations to those of weight. There is a lack of scientific research in this area, but wine critic and writer Jancis Robinson said, ‘ The truth is that the bottom of the bottle has no bearing on the quality of what’s inside’ (Touzalin, 2015). However, this does not stop the associations of quality. Robinson calls it ‘ a sign of pretension ’ , but maybe the additional cost to add a punt, is worth the sacrifice in order to create a sense of luxury. It is likely that the inclusion of a punt would appeal to consumers with an intermediate knowledge of wine, while those with minimal knowledge would be unaware of any significance. Serving: closure method Even the most seemingly small aspects of a wine serving experience can have effects on people’s perception and enjoyment of them. This includes the way that the bottle has been closed, and the glassware it is served in. A number of methods for closing wine bottles exist, the most popular of these are corks and screwcaps. A study conducted by Spence and Wang (2017) demonstrated the impact of these methods on consumers. Using 140 participants the researchers served participants similar Argentinian wines, one after hearing the sound of a cork opening, and one after hearing the sound of a screw cap opening. In another variation, participants opened cork and screw cap bottles themselves. In both variations, participants rated the wine as higher quality when it was opened with a cork rather than a screw cap. Participants, unsurprisingly, also rated these wines as more appropriate for a celebration and reported a more ‘ celebratory mood ’ . The researchers also question participants on the intensity of the wine and found no statistically significant difference. The results are shown to the left. Wine-sellers,

supermarkets and restaurants should look to sell corked wine bottles whenever possible, and winemakers should opt for closing their wines in this way. For organizations concerned with keeping air out of the wine (in cases where the wine should not be aged), a synthetic cork can be used.

Glassware Dan Ariely in his book Predicably Irrational suggests that the correct glassware is also worth investment. Research has demonstrated that the shape of a glass has no impact in a blind taste test, dispelling claims


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