Turns out, when it comes to wine, research suggests that the name alone can affect how much consumers are willing to pay for it. But is it that easy to dupe an oenophile?
As the late Richard Dawson would say: "Survey says? [Ding, Ding, Ding] Yes."
Take the wines of Christopher Tracy, the jovial vintner behind Channing Daughters Winery in the Hamptons. All his barrels, lined up like little wine-bellied soldiers, will eventually get bottled and all of Tracy's hard work will be summed up in a name — in this case, Blaufrankisch. That's BLAU (rhymes with WOW) frank-ish.
Blaufrankisch is not the easiest thing in the world to pronounce, especially when you're sitting with all your friends at a fancy restaurant. But Tracy says he's not trying to trip anyone up. He chose that name because of its connection to the grape's history.
Blaufrankisch literally means blue "Frankish" grape in German. It's Austrian by birth and produces a spicy, complex wine grown primarily across Eastern Europe.
Tracy has a couple other tongue twisters too. "Tocai Friulano, we have another one called Refosco — the true name for Refosco dal Peduncolo Rosso," Tracy says.
These names will run you between $20 and $40 a bottle. And it appears that the doozies might make him more money than the bottles with simpler names. That's according to a marketing experiment done by Antonia Mantonakis, a wine researcher at Brock University in Ontario.
"Participants not only reported liking the taste of the wine better if it was associated with a difficult to pronounce winery name. But they also reported about a $2 increase in willingness to pay," Mantonakis says. (Give or take six cents in U.S. dollars.)
But here's the fun part — the more Mantonakis' test subjects knew about wine, the more easily they got duped into thinking difficult wine names equaled pricier wines. She says that's because wine geeks will hunt for just about any subtle difference they can find, like a unique sounding name.
"And if something is rare and unique then maybe it might be a higher value and it maybe something that is more special," she says.
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