Red wine blind tasting results

A friend who is a wine expert operated a red wine blind tasting (not double-blind, however). All of the wines were decanted and served in anonymous bottles.

The top three results:

  1. Little Penguin Shiraz 2012 (about $6 per bottle (link))
  2. Col Solare 2007 blend ($60)
  3. Villa Antinori Reserva Chianti 2010 ($29 per bottle)

With a score of 7, the Little Penguin scored nearly a full point (out of 10) higher than the $60 competitor. The rest of the wines were mostly in a cluster between 4.5 and 5.5. On the bottom end, the outliers with a Louis Jadot Beaujolais 2012 and an Oyster Bay 2011 Pinor Noir.

[It is unclear if Little Penguin Shiraz is the same from bottle to bottle or year to year. The company’s Web site does not mention any vineyards or winery. So it might just be that they buy surplus wine from the persistent worldwide glut (see my February 2010 posting about how the French wine inside a $10 bottle costs 46 cents).]


  1. Peter T.

    March 11, 2014 @ 3:05 pm


    Who were rating the wines? Wine “experts” or ordinary people?

    The problem with most blind taste tests performed in the U.S. is that American’s have developed an insatiable sweet tooth. The result: the sweeter (but not necessarily better) product always rates higher.

    I’ve found the results of blind taste tests to correlate better to which product is sweeter versus which product tastes better. The classic example of this is the famous Pepsi taste test.

  2. Anonymous

    March 11, 2014 @ 4:41 pm


    It is a great joy when you find a cheap wine that you like. That is what matters with a wine, that you like it and it is not too expensive.

    Most people cannot tell much about wine qualities (myself included and I have been drinking wined every day for forty years). But they can decide whether they like a wine or not.

    Too often people buy wine just because they have been told is good. The consequences of that behavior are often comical. Take a look at the case in this BBC article:

    “They found the amount of Pinot Noir being sold to Gallo was far more than the region produced.”

    “There is no prejudice. Not a single American consumer complained.”

  3. philg

    March 11, 2014 @ 6:54 pm


    Peter: It was the rabble doing the rating. The hosts live in Beverly, Massachusetts. The wife is a public school teacher married to a professional pilot (i.e., she is supporting him!). The guests were neighbors in the middle class neighborhood, school teachers, and professional pilots earning $30-70,000 per year. I.e., not people who would be regularly drinking Chateau Margaux (which I would, of course, drink every day if only they would package it in a convenient 3L box).

  4. Anonymous

    March 11, 2014 @ 7:07 pm


    Philip: if that’s the case, based on my premise I would suspect the Little Penguin Shiraz 2012 was the fruitier (and sweeter) tasting of the three wines, hence its higher rating.

  5. Olentzero

    March 11, 2014 @ 10:45 pm


    Peter T: Ordinary people, like me, do know what they like. Many “wine experts” often don’t know that much. Gallo is one of the largest US wine merchants, its “experts” bought 18 million bottles of fake Pinot Noir.

  6. philg

    March 11, 2014 @ 11:02 pm


    Peter: Lending credence to your theory is the fact that there were 20 wines at the tasting and only one was an Australian Shiraz (a lot of Chianti, several Pinot Noir, two Malbec). I didn’t drink wine at all until I was about 35 years old and the only wines that I enjoyed were Australian Shirazes, which are also fruitier and less tannic, right? My tastes have broadened slightly since then (though I am by no means an expert).

  7. Olentzero

    March 12, 2014 @ 7:41 am


    Wine is unique in that is an agricultural product that can be sold for many multiples of what the grapes cost. The market for $50 plus bottles of wine is predicated on the existence of wealthy folks who in a blind taste could not tell a $200 bottle from one that sells for $20 but who are willing to buy expensive wine because they think it is the sophisticated thing to do. The “king is naked” sort of thing.

    In the BBC article above, the fraudsters claimed that ““There is no prejudice. Not a single American consumer complained.” We are talking 18 million bottles here. Presumably, at least some of those bottles were purchased by “sophisticated drinkers” who praised the king new clothes.

    It is also interesting that in what concerns wine consumers are often willing to go against their own taste. “I like sweet cakes, but now that I’m told that I should know better, I prefer the ones that are very salty.” “I loved steaks until I was told that tofu tastes better..”

  8. Olentzero

    March 12, 2014 @ 8:26 am


    An interesting, in my opinion, research article on the subject of wine tasting:

    “winning a Gold medal is greatly influenced by chance alone.”

  9. Mitch Berkson

    March 12, 2014 @ 10:00 am


    Coincidentally(?) the NY Times is starting a wine appreciation column which looks like fun:

  10. Walter Mitty

    March 12, 2014 @ 4:05 pm


    If you like good and cheap red wine, you owe it to yourself to try some Argentine or Chilean wines. You may have to try several before you get one that’s to your tase.

    These wines are not very sweet.

  11. sam

    March 12, 2014 @ 8:15 pm


    So the patrician snobs think liking sweeter stuff is prole. What’s wrong with sweet wine or sugary cocktails?

    I’ve seen convincing arguments from biochem/physiology experts that fructose (or sucrose) alongside booze is highly protective against certain deleterious effects of alcohol. From a health perspective Jack & non-diet coke is probably a better idea than straight bourbon.

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