Darren has picked up on the study about how wine drinkers identifying a “cheap” wine is an expensive vintage by manipulating the non-flavor characteristics (color: even to the extreme of dying a white wine red, bottle shape, presentation, etc.) Now, this isn’t to say that Darren’s wrong about in his opinions, particularly the one about: “…anybody who’s taken three hours of wine tasting at the local rec centre speaks with the authority of a veteran oenophile”.

But rather, it’s that EVERYTHING is subjective. Marketers call this sensation transference where people transfer their feelings about how great something looks on the outside to the perceived quality or flavor of the product.

The great people over at Get Rich Slowly have excerpted a large portion (with permission) of Malcolm Gladwell’s book: Blink that deals with this exact thing. I’d highly recommend reading it over there, but long story short, this isn’t about wine, it is about human perception.

  •  Yellow Margarine (with flavorless coloring) tastes better than White Margarine
  •  Brandy in a smoked glass bottle tastes better than the same brandy in a plain bottle
  •  15% more yellow on a 7-Up can greatly increases how much it tastes of Citrus
  •  Ravioli tastes better because of Chef Boyardee on the can
  •  Peaches taste better in a glass jar
  •  Ice Cream in a round container tastes better than in rectangle.

I think Darren’s reaction is the normal one, from the book:

“If you double the size of the chips in chocolate chip ice cream and say on the package, “Now! Bigger Chocolate Chips!? and charge five or ten cents more, that seems honest and fair. But if you put your ice cream in a round as opposed to a rectangular container and charge five or ten cents more, that seems like you’re pulling the wool over people’s eyes.”

So, I don’t think Darren’s crazy or at least not anymore than myself and every other human on the planet.