VSL:SCIENCE // Shock! Horror! Cheap wines are better.

Emily Post wouldn’t advise you to serve dinner guests fermented liquids that cost less than a bottle of Pellegrino. But according to a new study by Swedish economists, people actually prefer wines like E.&J. Gallo to more expensive vintages.

The study was based on 6,000-plus blind tastings of bottles that ranged in price from $1.65 to $150. As a rule, expert tasters showed a slight preference for pricey wines, while non-expert tasters preferred cheaper (and sweeter) bottles.

Why, then, do we squander our money on the fancy stuff? Another set of researchers asked subjects to sip wine while lying down in an fMRI machine and found that simply telling people that they were drinking an expensive wine activated the pleasure centers in their brains. Snobbery might be a waste of cash, but it sure feels good.

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