Posts Filed Under wine appreciation
Or maybe that should be the Science of Anticipation…
Back in January (yes, I am just now getting around to this – hey, I’ve got a newborn at the house; what’s your excuse?), findings were published from a study that measured participant’s brain reactions to tasting wine. The trick: it was the same wine, but they were told that the wine was either cheap, or relatively expensive. Guess what – participants enjoyed the wine more when they were told it had a higher price.
With all the duping going on in the wine industry the past few weeks (including an embarrassing gaff for Wine Spectator, and the claim that wine bloggers – Dude included! – were duped by winery marketers), I thought it would be fun to revisit this little ditty, and cast a different light on it in lieu of recent events.
According to one article on the study findings:
“Contrary to the basic assumptions of economics, several studies have provided behavioral evidence that marketing actions can successfully affect experienced pleasantness by manipulating nonintrinsic attributes of goods.”
[ My translation: instead of telling you that the wine is “an everyday guzzler” or “as close to sublime perfection as humans are likely to reach,” they just upped or lowered the price. ]
This struck me as totally odd (in terms of this being contrary to economic assumptions). I mean, aren’t we talking about something that marketing types, hucksters, clever business folk, and seductresses have known for maybe hundreds of years? Not only does a higher price give you the cache factor of shelling out for “the best,” setting a higher price does something else just as important:
It gives your brain the opportunity to indulge in anticipation of experiencing “the best.” Which is, I’d argue, an essential element in making a “good” experience – a meal, a movie, a date, a wine, and (especially!) sex – “great.”…
What studies like this one don’t mean is that you can’t tell the difference between wine that is pure plonk and wine that is superb. Almost anyone can do that, provided that they are willing to do a little bit of learning beforehand.
The studies don’t mean that all wines are created equal. In a lot of ways, the current wine market does set prices fairly, and you tend (with some exceptions, of course) to get what you pay for.
The studies also don’t mean that you need fancy-schmancy wine certifications, or advanced study under your belt, to appreciate wine. For that, you only need an open mind, patience, and the willingness to learn. Incidentally, these are the same things that you need to better appreciate a good meal, a movie, a date, and (especially!) sex.
I’m not sure what enlightenment we’re hoping to reach with all of this wine duping afoot, but I can tell you this: You know what they say about sex? ” When it’s good, it’s great. And when it’s bad, well, it’s still pretty good!”
The same applies to wine (and other great experience-givers) because, fundamentally, wine gives us pleasure, connect us together, and provide us the opportunity to open our minds a bit further than they were a few minutes before.
And if we indulge in a bit of anticipation to heighten the experience? From what I can tell, the most harm it might cause us is to think that the experience is a bit better than someone else thought it was.
That’s a trade-off I’d take any day of the week.
(images: .geocities.com/SoHo/Nook, danielpadilla.com)
This past week, I finally got around to watching Randy Pausch’s “Last Lecture.”
For the 7 or 8 of you that have yet to see this (I’ve got a 4-month-old at the house… what’s your excuse?), the video of the Pausch’s inspirational lecture has been viewed by an estimated 6 million+ people. Pausch’s topic was fulfilling your childhood dreams, made more poignant and powerful by the fact that a) he had fulfilled most of his childhood dreams, and b) he was diagnosed with terminal cancer before giving the lecture.
Pausch died last month, at the age of 47. His lecture is amazing, and it got me thinking: if I were to deliver a lecture, knowing it to be my last before I died, what would I talk about? Then I thought about it another way: Why should my last lecture be special? Why can’t all my lectures be special? Why can’t I just live as if every day, and every event, were my last?
Then I wouldn’t have to do anything differently than I would on any other day. I’d rather have someone be able to show a video of any random moment of me spending time with my daughter, and that be a snapshot of the totality of me as a person, then have to worry about topping myself for some reason before I head off to the great gig in the sky.
In other words, I’d like to have my life be the testament to, well, my life.
What the hell does this have to do with wine? Glad you asked! Assuming you’re still reading, that is. You are? Great! Then allow me to explain…
I’ve written before about the role of mindfulness in heightening your wine appreciation. Basically, give a wine a moment or two of your pure, unadulterated concentration, and it will reveal its entire world to you.
Now, imagine if you treated every glass of wine that you have from here on out as if it might be your last glass. Man, you’d really give it some concentration then.
Sip on that for a while – you might find it brings a greater appreciation of wine into your life.
Even if it’s a glass of Yellowtail.
Check out more ‘Zen Wine’ non-action by the 1WineDude.
(images: rosalynclare.files.wordpress.com, zen-life.org)
This past week, during a trip to Windsor I had the pleasure of meeting up with two very talented an knowledgeable wine bloggers – Robert McIntosh (the Wine Conversation), and Andrew Barrow (the venerable Spittoon.biz). In the ‘real world’ that is.
I also had the pleasure of sharing some bottles of real wine, sharing real food (at the Two Brewers pub), and having real honest-to-goodness conversation with like-minded wine geeks.
Personally, I love connecting with the wine blogging community online. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever been accepted more quickly, or by a better group of folks – a large (and ever-expanding) one at that. And certainly the online wine world made our get-together possible, organized in record time via twitter.
But as I’m fond of saying, reading about wine tasting is like trying to learn how to french kiss by studying a diagram. At times, on-line conversations and friendships can reach a similar point on their trajectory. As Rob so aptly puts it in his recap of our ‘International Wine Bloggers Mini-Conference’, the ultimate point is to make real friends, in the real world…
Which is exactly what we did last week.
What do wine bloggers talk about when they get together face to face? We talk about the same things that we discuss on-line: wine, the state of its culture and service in our world today, and how to further the cause of making wine more accessible – with a smattering of personal tidbits for good measure.
In between sips, that is.
The highlight of our get-together for me was the near-instant camaraderie; never having met face to face before did not prevent us for a millisecond from striking up interesting conversation and enjoying one another’s company.
A close second was the match-up between the lamb entree and our bottle of 2000 Chateau Musar.
But that’s exactly the kind of thing that you need to have been there to truly appreciate.
Now this is interesting.
As reported by several sources today (most of them just copy/paste jobs from a press release; check out one example here), CorkSavvy.com (yet another on-line service that allows you to track and review your wines) has launched an interesting feature today.
This feature allows you to snap a camera-phone picture of that bottle of vino you’re having (say, with dinner tonight) and submit it (along with your freshest-of-fresh tasting notes) directly to your CorkSavvy account.
I’m a big, big fan of keeping a wine journal. I think it’s one of the best (if not the best) ways to up your wine IQ, increase your wine vocabulary, and learn what you do (and don’t!) like about wine. Using a wine journal is one of the cornerstone advice pieces that I give in my Tasting Guide.
Could CorkSavvy.com be onto the “Wine 2.0” version of the trusty ol’ wine journal? Time will tell. If any of you give this service a try, be sure to give me a shout about it!