Could you tell pâté from dog food?

June 2009

For some reason, I find myself on the mailing list of the American Association of Wine Economists. Sounds dull? No way. They run research on such fascinating topics as: “When does price affect the taste of wine?” and “Can people distinguish dog food from pâté?’

Well, the answer to the first is, it doesn’t — unless you’re trying to fool women. A quote: “We find that an expensive wine gets considerably higher ratings when tasters are informed about the high price before tasting, relative to tasting ‘blind’ — but only from female tasters.” Don’t blame me. I’m just the messenger.

And how about the dog food versus pâté debate? Well, let’s not forget this was conducted in America. Just over 70 per cent of the subjects rated the dog food as the worst of the five samples — but they didn’t identify it as dog food. Score 1 for Fido. You can check out this amusingly curious organisation at

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