Fine wine or plonk? Many can’t tell

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wine corkscrew sxc sxc.hu In the United States, which has been the world's top consumer of wine since 2011, red wine consumption is expected to jump 14 percent in the next five years.

London - For those too ashamed to admit their favourite tipple is Jacob’s Creek or Blue Nun, fear not – you are not alone.

Britons in general do prefer cheaper wines, according to taste tests.

Eight out of ten people in the blind test preferred a bottle of wine costing £4.99 (about R80) to a £19.99 (about R300) option made from the same grapes.

And six in ten thought the £4.99 version was the more expensive of the two.

The figures, from the London Wine Academy, are sure to challenge conventions about what makes a really good bottle of wine.

The academy insists the £19.99 bottle is superior and that it takes some knowledge, tasting and experience to understand why.

However, the ordinary consumer might well argue that personal taste is a better judge, while the cheaper option is also more gentle on the pocket.

Data was gathered from 20 000 enthusiasts attending courses at the academy over 20 years.

Each workshop opened with a blind tasting of two wines from the same grape variety at different prices. Without any instructions on how to taste or what to look for the drinkers were asked to rate the wine on taste and guess the price.

On average, 80 percent preferred the taste of Aspen Hills Chardonnay from South East Australia, which costs £4.99 from Majestic Wine.

They put it ahead of the more expensive Gerard Thomas Saint-Aubin 1er Cru from Burgundy, France, which is £19.99 at Waitrose and Majestic.

The academy said the amateur’s perception of a good wine is based on the notion of “smoothness”.

Cheaper wines from warm climates have lower acidity, higher alcohol content, and have a more simple flavour. Experts, however, look for complex flavours, the balance between them and how long flavours linger, said academy founder Leta Bester.

She added: “The better, and usually more expensive the wine, the longer this finish will be. The flavours of a £4.99 wine may last for less than 10 seconds whilst a £19.99 wine should linger for nearly a minute.”

Miss Bester said that more expensive wines were not necessarily “better” than cheaper ones, they were just “different” and often needed food to fully bring out the flavour.

“Initially our students prefer the simplicity of less expensive wines,” she said. “But as their understanding and sense of taste grow they tend to gravitate to pricier wines that display more complexity.”

She said that, contrary to popular belief, no one is born with a good or bad palate and like any discipline tasting is about teaching your body to do new and unfamiliar things.

“Wine tasting is about developing the lines of communication between your nose, tongue and brain and in novice tasters these lines are relatively underdeveloped,” she said. - Daily Mail

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