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Wine Studies, Sex, and the Art of Anticipation

Vinted on September 8, 2008 binned in commentary, wine appreciation
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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.

Cheers!

(images: .geocities.com/SoHo/Nook, danielpadilla.com)


Calling All 1WineDude.com Gear Models!

Vinted on September 7, 2008 binned in wine products

Check out the big shirt on Brad!

Bradley Cooper, winemaker/consultant in British Columbia, is featured below sporting his new 1WineDude.com “Wine Rules!” tee. Sweet!


Thanks, Brad. I love Canada!

Cheers!

Bargain Wines from Wine Peeps

Vinted on September 6, 2008 binned in Uncategorized


Just wanted to drop you all a quick jimmy-jahn to highlight a way-cool article from my buds over at WinePeeps.com. They’ve put together their list of favorite budget wines (and in the current economy, who isn’t lookin’ for a bargain right now) – these are selections that cost about $10 a pop, and scored high (in their opinions) in QPR.

I’ve only tried three of these wines myself (the Hogue, Yalumba, and Penfolds – though they were likely different vintages, you’ll these producers will probably be very consistent year to year especially in this price range).

Worth a look if you’re scoping for everyday drinking.

http://winepeeps.com/2008/09/05/super-bargain-wines-for-tough-times/

Thanks, Wine Peeps!

Cheers!

BinEndsWine.com Twitter Tasting #3 – Sept. 18 Live with Michel-Schlumberger

Vinted on September 5, 2008 binned in 1WD LIVE, twitter, twitter taste live, wine 2.0, wine tasting


What’s it like to “taste” wine live, online?

The concept sounds totally geeky, but it turns out that it kicks all kinds of ass.

For a few months running (since its inaugural run), I’ve been taking part in the Twitter Tasting Live event hosted by BinEndsWine.com. In summary:

  1. You buy a sample pack from BinEndsWine.com, they ship said wine to you
  2. You sign up at twittertastelive.com
  3. On the 3rd Thursday of that month, you log into twitter.com and taste live along with participating wine bloggers & wine lovers from all over the world, and the BinEndsWine.com staff, usually joined by a winemaker associated with that month’s sample pack of wines.

The kick-ass portion of this is not just live access to the winemaker (you can easily imagine the amount of cool info. you can get out of them by asking them questions live about the wine you are drinking at that moment).

The real kick-ass portion is that it takes the social connection that wine gives us when we drink it together, and extends it instantly across cultural and geographical boundaries.

For a wine geek like me, it’s a blast to see the jokes, comments, tasting notes, and questions coming from different personalities (some on different continents) tasting the same wine that I am having at the exact same time. We don’t always agree, but the wine does help us connect – amicably. Couple that with what I’m doing locally (hosting a wine tasting dinner party centering around the same wines), and I’m in 7th wine heaven.

Now, here’s what’s up for the next Live twitter tasting happening on Sept. 18…


I will be joining the BinEndsWine.com staff LIVE at Wine 2.0 in NYC at 7PM ET.
I’ll be at the BEW booth, drinking their wine, blogging about the event via twitter, stealing BEW’s water, and maybe making them bring me wine crackers! Or something like that. BEW will also have staff from CA wine producer Michel-Schlumberger on tap LIVE, to answer questions about his wines (which are this month’s focus for the tasting).

The event is being co-hosted by Wannabe Wino; you can also check out BinEndsWine.com for more details.

After the dust settles on the twitter live tasting events, I usually also provide more focused reviews of some of the wines from the event on my twitter wine “mini” reviews feed (please note this is NOT the twitter feed I use during the live tastings!). Below are a my “mini” reviews for a few of the wines included in the last twitter live tasting of Hugel’s Alsace wines:


1WineDudeReview 06 Hugel Gentil (Alsace): A kitchen sink blend of Alsatian grapes. Citrus, flowers & stone; good, but it’s got a bit of an identity crisis.

1WineDudeReview 06 Hugel Gewurztraminer (Alsace): Lychee & limes, a hint of orange rind, and just really well put-together. Pair it with Indian take-out.

1WineDudeReview 04 Hugel Riesling Jubilee “Grand Cru” (Alsace): Peeps like me love petrol & vinyl with our rose water & citrus. Buy this if you’re like us!

1WineDudeReview 01 Hugel Gewurztraminer Vendage Tardive (Alsace): Viscous, loads of citrus, lychee, & autumn leaves. Holy Hannah it’s good! But not cheap.

Hope to “see” you on-line and LIVE at the next tasting – friend me up beforehand and let me know if you’re joining in.

Cheers!

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