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Thursday Thorns
Here They Go Again—Another Loony Study About Wine

By Stephen Eliot

Once again, a new study about wine and the people who drink it leads me to the inevitable conclusion that there far too many statisticians and professors who simply have too much time on their hands.

The latest comes to us from Brock Univerisity in Ontario, Canada, an institution of higher learning whose mission statement reads that “we nurture both sides on the brain”. It seems that, according to research conducted by Dr. Antonia Mantonakis, associate professor of Marketing at said university, wine enthusiasts are likely to shell out more money for wines made by wineries with hard to pronounce names than those whose names are easy to say.

As reported in the Brock News *, Mantonakis, while conceding that “various things can influence the cognitive process”, says “something like the sound of a name can illicit (sic) a thought, and that thought can influence the perception of how something tastes.”

In this case, the same wine was served to subject tasters under two different names, and, when polled, the tasters apparently believed the one made by the winery with the more difficult name to be better despite the fact that the two samples turned out to be the very same wine. Further, those participants, who thorough pre-testing demonstrated a bit more wine knowledge to start, were more likely to favor the wine with the more difficult to pronounce name.

Now, I cannot quarrel with the notion that names carry weight, but the notion that there is something inherently preferable in one produced by the Tselepou Winery over one made by the more mellifluously named Titakis Winery (the two winery names employed in the “study”) does make me grin as I sit with my morning coffee.

At this point, Ms. Mantonakis’s research has concerned itself only with winery names, but we are promised further studies to see if the same holds true for the names of grape varietals as well. It could be that her yet-to-come revelations will open new vistas for those bored by Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Pinot Noir. Forget about Grüner Veltliner, Torrontes and Ribolla Giallo, their fifteen minutes of fame will have passed. Perhaps Aghiorghitiko will be the Next Big Thing, or maybe the Neagras, Babeasca or Feteasca , and watch out for Žlahtina.

All of this does get me thinking about the whole culture of wine, and it just might explain a few things; the sudden proliferation and rising celebrity status of sommeliers, for example…I mean how many people can really say “sommelier?”

Ah well, I can’t really say that I am worried. My coffee has cooled and so has my ardor. After all, the study came out of Canada.

Never mind.



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by Samantha Dugan
Posted on:3/1/2012 8:02:59 PM

Best thing I've seen about that study came from Tom Johnson wherein he translated the Tselepou, "To-sell-a-poo" other than that, meh.

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