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Choosing Wines Now Honed to a Science

By Melissa Lafsky
Apr 30, 2008 7:07 PMNov 5, 2019 8:40 AM


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Ever wonder what spurred you to order that bottle of Chablis? As it turns out, researchers are hard at work deciphering the answer to your question. Brock University in Ontario has announced the opening of its Consumer Perception and Cognition Lab, which is touted by the Calgary Herald as the "first academic facility in North America dedicated exclusively to studying the link between consumer approval and wine's origins and flavours." The lab, led by consumer psychologist Antonia Mantonakis, will focus on how psychological factors like nostalgia, previous tastings, and prior brand exposure can determine the choice between red or white, Pinot Gris or Chardonnay, Bordeaux or Tuscany, and countless other oenophilic details. Using local volunteers in "simulated environments" (candlelit dinners for two?) Mantonakis and her team plan to study topics like how exposure to brands and brand-related cues indirectly influence wine choice, and whether those of us who choose based on the attractiveness of the label (or the total alcohol content) are in for disappointment. The end result, say the researchers, is to develop methods for predicting consumer preferences that will help wine producers tailor their products and packaging for maximizing sales. Which will no doubt go over well in California, but may be somewhat less popular in regions where the production, storage, and packaging of wine have been in place for centuries.

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