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Wine Labels Influence Drinkers’ Palates

Wine descriptions can alter consumers’ emotions, increase their enjoyment of wine and encourage them to pay more for a bottle, according to a study published in Food Research International.

“The importance of wine labels and label information has been widely studied, and it’s been clearly shown that they represent useful information which influences consumer choice,” says project leader A/Prof Sue Bastian of The University of Adelaide.” Our study extends these findings, showing that wine descriptions also influence our whole wine consumption experience.

“Cleverly written wine and producer descriptions, when coupled with unbranded wine tasting, can evoke more positive emotions, increasing our positive perception of the wine, our estimation of its quality and the amount we would be willing to pay for it.”

The researchers conducted a study with Australian white wines and 126 regular white wine consumers. The consumers evaluated the same set of three commercially available white wines ­– chardonnay, riesling and sauvignon blanc ­­­– under three information levels: a blind tasting with no information, the provision of a basic sensory description, and the provision of an elaborate emotional description.

The presentation of more elaborate wine descriptions, which included information regarding the winery’s history and positive wine quality statements, significantly increased the preference rating that the consumers allocated to the wines.

Further to this, the results showed that if the expectations elicited by the wine description closely matched the actual tasting experience, consumers felt far more positive emotions than if it didn’t meet expectations.

“These findings have important implications for wine producers and the hospitality industry in that descriptions require more than just wine-tasting notes,” says lead author Dr Lukas Danner. “Companies could even consider involving consumers in label description optimisation.”

The research was funded by Wine Australia.