Special to Bullet News
When presented with the same glass of wine in the same glass in the same environment, people are more likely to believe the harder-to-pronounce wine tastes better.
This is according to research from Antonia Mantonakis, associate professor of marketing at Brock University. Mantonakis will explain her findings at an upcoming talk, which is part of the annual Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute (CCOVI) Lecture Series.
Mantonakis’ research group has found that when a test group was given an identical wine with two different names, more people pointed to the complicated name as tasting better.
The professor lined up two similar test groups in Brock’s consumer perception and cognition lab. The group was given wine and told it was from the easily-pronounced Titakis Winery. Then it was given wine from Tselepou Winery.
Both names are Greek and begin with a T. Both have three syllables. But Tselepou is harder to pronounce and has more unusual letter combinations. The test consumers rated Tselepou Winery higher on a scale of one to seven.
After the experiment, participants were also given a short quiz to gauge their knowledge of wine. Those with more wine knowledge in particular showed more of a willingness to buy the wine from the hard-to-pronounce winery.
“It’s interesting how consumers perceive things,” Mantonakis said. “Something like the sound of a name can illicit a thought, and that thought can influence the perception of how something tastes.”
Mantonakis had read about the dynamic in other studies. One study found that the more unusual the name of a rollercoaster, the riskier people imagine the ride to be. The same trend is true with fictitious brokerage firms such as Artan versus Lasiea and food additives (magnalroxate versus hnegripitrom). Even easy-to-pronounce stock market ticker symbols are perceived as being less risky, hence why those symbols are more valuable.
But wine drinkers seem to like risk. Mantonakis guessed early on that seeking a new taste adventure, they’d lean toward the hard-to-pronounce names.
The annual COOVI lecture series begins tonight with a presentation by Karl Kaiser, a CCOVI professional affiliate and co-founder of Inniskillin Wines. Mantonakis will present “Does a wine influence consumer taste perception?” on Wednesday, Feb. 8 at 3 p.m. at Mackenzie Chown H313.
The lecture series is free and open to everyone. It will also be broadcast live at www.brocku.ca/ccovi
For a full list of CCOVI lectures: www.brocku.ca/ccovi/outreach-services/ccovi-lecture-series