New Research Shows Why Wine Descriptions Don’t Help Consumers Select Wine

New research recently published in the journal Neurocomputing shows one more reason why consumers get little help in choosing wines from the descriptions in wine reviews: the same words mean different things to different people.

This fits in with — MISINTERPRETATION: Words = Big Trouble — which is one of the issues that we have written about here and on our companion site, Recommendation Insights.

Brain Signals Were The Key

In the Neurocomputing study, researchers monitored the pattern of brain waves from 45 volunteers who were asked to read a list of acronyms.

The resulting brain wave patterns were so distinctly different for each person’s words, that a computer was able to use those patterns to identify specific people when the test was repeated. The accuracy was 94%.

Discovery Found While Looking For A New “Fingerprint”

The findings were developed as researchers explored “semantic memory” as a possible new biometric — a way to identify people.

According to the study, “Semantic memory can be thought of as the network of concepts and connections between them that all individuals possess. We argue that semantic memory is a system that, although generally similar across individuals, is likely to be highly individualized when examined in detail, and therefore likely to be able to provide a distinctive biometric.”

In other words, brain patterns that are so individually unique as to be suitable for a biometric also emphasize the difference among people in how their brains react to the same words.

People React Differently To The Same Word

Our previous articles look at how genetics, psychology, education, experience and other factors combine to rob current wine review and rating systems of utility in wine selection.

This new study confirms that the varying levels of meaning people can find in a single word. This variability works against individual chances of selecting wines to enjoy.

Stability A Problem For Use As A Biometric

The researchers found that their ability to identify an individual from their brain wave reactions to the same word was less accurate after six months. While this decreases the possible value for use as a biometric, it illustrates that, over time, the meaning of any given word to an individual is likely to change over time.

That last finding further shows how word-based systems are unsuitable for accurate wine selection.

The journal article link, above, leads to an abstract of the premium version of the paper. This link will take you to a free, complete version: the Author’s self-archived version (.pdf)