Skip to main content Accessibility help

“Nothing Good Ever Came from New Jersey”: Expectations and the Sensory Perception of Wines*

  • Robert H. Ashton (a1)


The influence of expectations on the sensory perception of wines is investigated in three studies in which New Jersey and California red wines are blind tasted. Studies 1 and 2, in which only the color of the wines is known prior to tasting, demonstrate that neither wine club members nor experienced wine professionals can distinguish between New Jersey and California wines in terms of personal enjoyment. In contrast, Study 3, in which tasters are informed that some (though not which) of the wines are from New Jersey, finds that when a wine is believed to be from New Jersey it receives lower enjoyment ratings than when the identical wine is believed to be from California—regardless of whether the wine is actually from New Jersey or California. The results enhance our understanding of the role of expectations in the interpretation of subjective experiences. Implications for wine producers and wine consumers are explored. (JEL Classification: C91)



Hide All

I am indebted to Alison Ashton for insightful comments on an earlier version, to Mani Sethuraman for excellent research assistance, and to Andrew Lazarus for his generosity in arranging the tasting involving wine professionals. I also appreciate the helpful comments of an anonymous reviewer and the editor.



Hide All
Amerine, M.A., and Roessler, E.B. (1983). Wines: Their Sensory Evaluation. New York: W.H. Freeman.
Ashenfelter, O., and Storchmann, K. (2012). Editorial: The Judgment of Princeton and other articles. Journal of Wine Economics, 7, 139142.
Ashton, R.H. (2014). Wine as an experience good: Price versus enjoyment in blind tastings of expensive and inexpensive wines. Journal of Wine Economics, 9, 171182.
Bowen, D.J., Tomoyasu, N., Anderson, M., Carney, M., and Kristal, A. (1992). Effects of expectancies and personalized feedback on fat consumption, taste, and preference. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 22, 10611079.
Brochet, F. (2001). Chemical object representation in the field of consciousness (application presented for the Grand Prix of the Académie Amorim following work carried out toward a doctorate from the Faculty of Oenology, University of Bordeaux).
Brochet, F., and Dubourdieu, D. (2001). Wine descriptive language supports cognitive specificity of chemical senses. Brain and Language, 77, 187196.
Cardello, A.V. (1994). Consumer expectations and their role in food acceptance. In MacFie, H. J. H. and Thomson, D. M. H. (Eds.), Measurement of Food Preferences. Glasgow: Blackie Academic and Professional.
Carlsmith, J.M., and Aronson, E. (1963). Some hedonic consequences of the confirmation and disconfirmation of expectancies. Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 66, 151156.
Darley, J.M., and Gross, P.H. (1983). A hypothesis-confirming bias in labeling effects. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 44, 2033.
Davidson, A. (2013). Bottle bing: How New Jersey could make itself the next Napa. New York Times, March 17, www.nytimes/com/2013/03/17/magazine/.
Deliza, R., and MacFie, H.J.H. (1996). The generation of sensory expectation by external cues and its effect on sensory perception and hedonic ratings: A review. Journal of Sensory Studies, 11, 103128.
Gawel, R. (1997). The use of language by trained and untrained experienced wine tasters. Journal of Sensory Studies, 12, 267284.
Ginsburgh, V., and Zang, I. (2012). Shapley ranking of wines. Journal of Wine Economics, 7, 169180.
Goldstein, R., Almenberg, J., Dreber, A., Emerson, J. W., Herschkowitsch, A., and Katz, J. (2008). Do more expensive wines taste better? Evidence from a large sample of blind tastings. Journal of Wine Economics, 3, 19.
Hoch, S.J., and Deighton, D. (1989). Managing what consumers learn from experience. Journal of Marketing, 53, 120.
Hughson, A.L., and Boakes, R.A. (2001). Perceptual and cognitive aspects of wine expertise. Australian Journal of Psychology, 53, 103108.
Hughson, A.L., and Boakes, R.A. (2002). The knowing nose: The role of knowledge in wine expertise. Food Quality and Preference, 13, 463472.
Hurling, R., and Shepherd, R. (2003). Eating with your eyes: Effect of appearance on expectations of liking. Appetite, 41, 167174.
Klaaren, K.J., Hodges, S.D. and Wilson, T.D. (1994). The role of affective expectations in subjective experience and decision-making. Social Cognition, 12, 77101.
Lawless, H.T. (1984). Flavor description of white wine by “expert” and nonexpert wine consumers. Journal of Food Science, 49, 120123.
Lee, L., Frederick, S., and Ariely, D. (2006). Try it, you'll like it: The influence of expectation, consumption, and revelation on preferences for beer. Psychological Science, 17, 10541058.
Lehrer, A. (1975). Talking about wine. Language, 51, 901923.
Lehrer, A. (1983). Wine and Conversation. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.
Lehrer, A. (2009). Wine and Conversation. 2nd ed.New York: Oxford University Press.
March, J.G. (1991). Exploration and exploitation in organizational learning. Organization Science, 2, 7187.
Morrot, G. (1999). Can we improve taster performance? Journal International des Sciences de la Vigne et du Vin (special issue on wine-tasting), 2935.
Peynaud, E. (1987). The Taste of Wine: The Art and Science of Wine Appreciation. (Schuster, M., Trans). San Francisco: Wine Appreciation Guild.
Plassmann, H., O'Doherty, J., Shiv, B., and Rangel, A. (2008). Marketing actions can modulate neural representations of experienced pleasantness. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 105, 10501054.
Quandt, R.E. (2012). Comments on the Judgment of Princeton. Journal of Wine Economics, 7, 152154.
Sauvageot, F. (1999). Sensory evaluation. Journal International des Sciences de la Vigne et du Vin (special issue on wine-tasting), 6169.
Schifferstein, H.N.J., Kole, A.P.W., and Mojet, J. (1999). Asymmetry in the disconfirmation of expectations for natural yogurt. Appetite, 32, 307329.
Smith, R. (2013). The trick to selling fancy wine from New Jersey: Don't say it's from New Jersey.
Solomon, G.E.A. (1990). The psychology of novice and expert wine talk. American Journal of Psychology, 103, 495517.
Solomon, G.E.A. (1997). Conceptual change and wine expertise. Journal of the Learning Sciences, 6, 4160.
Taber, G.M. (2006). Judgment of Paris: California vs. France and the Historic 1976 Paris Tasting That Revolutionized Wine. New York: Scribner.
Taber, G.M. (2012). The Judgment of Princeton. Journal of Wine Economics, 7, 143151.
Tuorila, H., Meiselman, H., Cardello, A., and Lesher, L. (1998). Effect of expectations and the definition of product category on the acceptance of unfamiliar foods. Food Quality and Preference, 9, 421430.
Veale, R., and Quester, P. (2008). Consumer sensory evaluations of wine quality: The respective influence of price and country of origin. Journal of Wine Economics, 3, 1029.
Wansink, B., Park, S.B., Sonka, S., and Morganosky, M. (2000). How soy labeling influences preference and taste. International Food and Agribusiness Management Review, 3, 8594.
Ward, D.L. (2012). A graphical and statistical analysis of the Judgment of Princeton. Journal of Wine Economics, 7, 155168.
Weil, R.L. (2001). Parker v. Prial: The death of the vintage chart. Chance, 14, 2731.
Weil, R.L. (2005). Analysis of reserve and regular bottlings: Why pay for a difference only the critics claim to notice? Chance, 18, 915.
Weil, R.L. (2007). Debunking critics’ wine words: Can amateurs distinguish the smell of asphalt from the taste of cherries? Journal of Wine Economics, 2, 136144.
Wilson, T.D., Lisle, D.J., Kraft, D., and Wetzel, C.G. (1989). Preferences as expectation-driven inferences: Effects of affective expectations on affective experience. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 56, 519530.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Journal of Wine Economics
  • ISSN: 1931-4361
  • EISSN: 1931-437X
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-wine-economics
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *



Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed