Do the tasting ratings truly influence the price of wine?

March 13th 2024

A team of researchers from Germany and Austria, including Daniel Kaimann, Clarissa Laura Maria Speiss Bru, and Bernd Frick, delved into the correlation between wine ratings and prices, particularly in the high-end market. Their study aimed to uncover the mechanisms driving this relationship, shedding light on the dynamics between critics' evaluations and market value.


The researchers identified the emergence of the wine rating system as a response to the "information asymmetry" between producers and consumers in a market heavily reliant on tasting experience. With the inherent difficulty in assessing intangible product characteristics before consumption, prices often serve as quality indicators. Factors such as region of origin, grape variety, vineyard reputation, and weather conditions contribute to these assessments. However, subjective determinants, particularly wine critic ratings, wield significant influence, especially in the high-end segment.


Studies indicate that a 10% increase in ratings by influential critics like Robert Parker or Jean-Marc Quarin correlates with approximately a 7% hike in Bordeaux en primeur prices. Bordeaux producers, in particular, use these ratings as guiding principles for their pricing strategies.


To delve deeper into this relationship, the researchers analyzed 13,911 reviews of 8,444 wines from around the world published by the American magazine "Wine Enthusiast" over a twenty-year period. Their findings confirmed a positive and significant correlation between ratings and wine prices. For every unit increase in rating, the price of a wine saw an 8% hike. Moreover, they observed consistent patterns in critic evaluations over time, favoring red and white wines over rosés in both scores and prices.


The study's conclusion highlights the importance for winemakers to subject their products to regular evaluations and align their pricing strategies with rating results. Unlike previous studies, this research encompasses vineyards worldwide, demonstrating the universal relevance of their findings. Furthermore, it suggests a shift in consumer behavior, indicating that premier or grand cru labels alone no longer guarantee higher prices. Positive ratings not only impact immediate demand but also have long-term effects, as evidenced by a 25% increase in sales for wines with expert endorsements in Californian markets.


Overall, the study provides valuable insights into the intricate relationship between wine ratings and prices, underscoring the significance of critics' evaluations in shaping market dynamics for winemakers globally.