A very interesting study published this week in the Journal of Marketing Research found that consumers rate wine as better quality when it costs more, despite it tasting exactly the same. It's human psychology that the price tag can affect perceived value, and high end luxury brands have traded on that basic psychology for years (albeit with having to meet a minimum quality standard). Next time you have a drinks party, offer up two wines priced exactly the same with a similar taste profile but tell your guests that one costs four times as much and see which one they like more!
A couple of other interesting pieces of feedback from the research:
1. Wines that are sold in heavier bottles are perceived to be of greater value. In this case, heavy=valuable.
2. Wine served in a thicker, larger glass is perceived to be of better quality - maybe a tip for restaurants to sell more cheap house wine if they serve it in larger, thicker glasses!