Wine aficionados flock to tastings to discover some rare gem of a vintage or sample the best bottles from a little-known winery, but numerous studies suggest that many aspiring oenophiles have trouble telling white wine from red by taste alone. In his New Yorker article, “Does All Wine Taste the Same,” Jonah Lehrer describes an experiment at the University of Bordeaux – an epicenter of wine knowledge – in which a white wine was served with just enough food coloring to masquerade as a red. The same white wine that was described as crisp and light in its natural state was perceived as “jammy’ and filled with “red fruit” notes when it wore its red disguise. These results aren’t uncommon, either; time and again, experts presented with blind taste tests do little better than chance when ranking a flight of wines from least expensive to costliest.
Here’s where the data gets interesting for SEO content creators and marketing teams: Tasters may miss the mark on expensive versus cheap wines and even red versus white, but they unerringly use a different vocabulary to describe their top and bottom picks. Inexpensive wines, or at least those that tasters believe are inexpensive, get generic descriptions; “light,” “crisp” and “sweet” are terms that crop up frequently. Wines perceived as high-end, by contrast, draw specific and evocative praise that appeals to the senses.
The same wine that got a token “crisp and fruity” description when poured from an inexpensive bottle becomes “as crisp and cool as autumn’s first apples” when a taster believes it’s an exotic and costly vintage. Tasters will expend extra effort to savor a red wine they see as valuable, delving deep into its presumed complexity and pulling out notes of coffee, chocolate or cherries to describe the richness of flavor they detect. They note the wine’s legs, its color and its body – things no one bothers to notice about a merely adequate table wine.