When drinking wine it is both true and untrue to say that the expensive stuff tastes better than the inexpensive stuff.
First the untrue. In a recent study of blind tasting, psychologist Richard Wiseman asked 600 people to say which wines were more expensive after sipping. People only picked correctly 53% of the time--the equivalent of a coin flip.
Now the true. We love to rank and score things but we can't really quantify taste on a 100 point scale. The more we know about the wine we're drinking--from imagining the region where it's from to seeing the transporting label design--the more we engage our full brain in the process, thus receiving a better experience.
From Jonah Lehrer at The Frontal Cortex who originally posted this research:
The taste of a wine, like the taste of everything, is not merely the sum of that alcoholic liquid in the glass. It cannot be deduced by beginning with our sensations and extrapolating upwards. This is because what we experience is not what we sense. Rather, experience is what happens when our senses are interpreted by our subjective brain, which brings to the moment its entire library of personal memories, wine shop factoids and idiosyncratic desires. As the philosopher Wilfrid Sellars pointed out, there is no reasonable way to divide sensory experience into what is “given to the mind” and what is “added by the mind.” When we take a sip of wine, for instance, we don’t taste the wine first, and the cheapness second. We taste everything all at once, in a single gulp of thiswineisplonk, or thiswineisexpensive. Our senses are vague in their instructions, and we parse their inputs based upon whatever other knowledge we can summon to the surface.
And that's how we assign value to brands too. 'We taste everything all at once.'