The Great Wine Experiment

Wine isn’t really my drink (I’m more of an anything-else-because-wine-is-really-disgusting kind of guy). But, I do find wine snobs to be really annoying. Food and drink are completely subjective experiences (unlike art). I will enjoy what I enjoy, and ratings or a price on a bottle will not influence my happiness. One of my friends, Chris, disagreed. Yesterday, he spoke of how any simpleton with average appreciation for wine could tell a more expensive wine (therefore a better wine) from a cheap wine (therefore worse). So… I organized a little taste test! 6 glasses of wines ranging from 2 dollars to 18 dollars were given to 4 participants: Chris, Alistair, my brother, and my mom. (There was some complaining that the range of wines was’t big enough, but fuck you, I’m not going to buy a 50 dollar bottle of wine to prove a point)
Chris’ Hypothesis: All of the testers (except probably my brother, because he doesn’t really drink wine) would enjoy the most expensive wines the most and the least expensive wines the least. In short, there would be a 1-1 correlation between wine price and wine taste.
My Hypothesis: Not only would the testers not be able to put the wines in order from most expensive to least, but they also rarely agree with wine ratings because taste is such a subjective experience. Enough with the explanation… on to the data!

Each tester was asked to rate their cups from worst to best, with 1 representing the worst and 6 representing the best:

Wine #        Brother      Mom    Chris     Alistair
1                     2                 3              3            4
2                    4                  5             6             2
3                    3                 2               1            5
4                    6                 6              4            1
5                    1                  1              2            3
6                    5                 4               5           6

As you can see, theres actually some correlation between all of the testers. There are wines that did very well, like Wine #6 and Wine #4, and wines that did not do well, such as Wine #5. I was a little overzealous in my hypothesis I guess. Lets add up the totals and find the aggregate wine rating.

1st Place with 20 points: Wine #6
Tied for 2nd and 3rd Place with 17 points: Wines #2 and #4
4th Place with 12 points: Wine #1
5th Place with 11 points: Wine #3
6th Place with 7 points: Wine #5

(worth noting: the only wine with significant standard deviation [greater than 1.5], is wine 4 with a standard deviation of 2.4)

And now… lets actually reveal the wines tested.

The “best” wine (#6): The Holdings Cabernet 2009 (retail price: $16)
Analysis: Dammit. This was the second most expensive wine that they sampled. Oh well.

The “second best” (#2): Charles Shaw Merlot 2010 (retail price: $2.99)
Analysis: Hell yes! “Two buck chuck” is almost as good as a 16 dollar bottle?! I’m awesome!

Also tied for second (#4): Black Box Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 (retail price: $6.99)
Analysis: Boom! Another cheapish wine (this one was boxed!)

The “fourth best” wine (#1): HJ Fabre Malbec Reserva 2010 (retail price: $18)
Analysis: Good enough for me. This was the most expensive wine and didn’t even make the top half

The “second worst” wine (#3): Charles Shaw Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 (retail price: $2.99)
Analysis: It looks like they are pretty decent at ranking Cabernets

The “worst” wine (#5): Charles Shaw Merlot 2010 (retail price: $2.99)
Analysis: You read that right! Wine #2 and #5 both came from the same bottle! They ranked it second best as well as last! Proved my point? I think I have…

Conclusions: I’m pretty happy with how this went. There’s not much correlation between the ranking of wines and the price of the wines. Alistair got pretty darn close, but everyone else (including Chris) were wayyyy off base. Especially with Chris’ so-called “experienced palate”, he ranked the same wine as both the best, and the second worst. Victory: this argument is over.

Errors: None. This was a perfect blinded trial. I should do this for a living.

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