These are three red wines that are made from the same grape, but at different prices.
The most expensive is a 2011 Honig cabernet sauvignon from Napa Valley.
Wine Spectator magazine rated it Outstanding.
And it cost 5 times more than the one on the right. So does it taste 5 times better?
19 Vox staffers tasted and rated each of the wines, and almost half of them correctly identified the most expensive one.
But that's not because they liked it more.
"Very nuanced. Complex. Didn't enjoy it."
Their average ratings for the cheapest and most expensive wine, they were actually the same.
"I'm glad I have cheap taste. It's gonna make my life really easy."
And this is consistent with a 2008 study that compiled 6,000 blind tastings in the United States.
It found that unless they had undergone wine training, people didn't actually prefer the taste of the expensive wines.
In fact they enjoyed them slightly less.
"Yeah, that's really not very pleasant."
There seems to be something about wine that can make us feel a bit lost.
"That has sort of an oaky afterbirth."
That's probably why a single movie can move the whole wine market.
"That's tasty." "That's 100% pinot noir. Single vineyard. They don't even make it anymore."
After Sideways was released, sales of Pinot Noir jumped compared to other red wines, and sales of merlot?
"I'm not drinking any f*cking merlot." They slowed down.
But who decides what good wine is? There are professional judges that give medals at competitions, but they're really inconsistent.
One statistician showed that most wines that received the highest score in one competition also got the lowest score in another.
This is the distribution of gold medals that you would expect if they were awarded by random chance.
It looks a lot like the actual distribution of gold medals in US wine competitions.
That suggests judges often disagree with each other. But it gets worse: they often disagree with themselves.
When surreptitiously given the same wine 3 times, only 1 in 10 of the judges at the California State Fair wine competition consistently awarded it the same medal.
Wine ratings published in magazines can be all over the map too.
Here's how two top critics described the same wine in 2004.
"A brilliant effort", "completely unappetizing", "a wine of sublime richness", "overripe aromas", "remarkable freshness and definition", "more reminiscent of a late-harvest zinfandel than a red bordeaux."
One problem is that not all of the wine publications require their tasters to be blind to the price and to the brand.
And that matters because people can't seem to avoid associating price with quality.
One experiment in Australia showed that people rated the same wine higher when they thought it was $53 rather than $16 or $6.
But get this-the experimenters had actually made that wine objectively worse by adding tartaric acid.
It didn't matter-the price tag overwhelmed their own taste buds.
In another study, scientists scanned the brains of people tasting wines that they thought were either $10 or $90.
In reality, it was the same wine, but when they thought it was expensive, their brains showed more activity in a region associated with pleasant tastes and smells.
So expensive wines may actually taste better after all, as long as you know that they're expensive.
"You can feel free to finish it if you want." "I'll take the expensive one."