Antonia Mantonakis, an associate professor at Brock University in Ontario, and her research group found 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 1 to 7.
After the experiment, participants were given a short quiz to gauge their knowledge of wine. Those with more wine knowledge in particular showed greater willingness to buy the wine from the hard-to-pronounce winery.
"It's interesting how consumers perceive things," Mantonakis said in a statement. "Something like the sound of a name can elicit a thought, and that thought can influence the perception of how something tastes."
The findings are scheduled to be presented at the annual Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute Lecture Series Feb 8.