Saturday, March 27, 2010
Cold Duck And Subjective Experience
However this wine continued to make an appearance at parties and gatherings at the places I haunted during those years, its cheap and nasty persona vying no doubt with that notion that cheap and nasty can morph into affordable and mellow if you drink enough of it – As they say, “After the fourth glass who can tell what the forsooth it is and who forsoothing cares? ”
Today I purchased a March/April 2010 copy of the magazine Scientific American – Mind. On page 30 I read this:
“In 2008 Hilke Plassman, now associate professor of marketing at INSTEAD Business School near Paris, sneakily switched the price tags on bottles of Cabernet Sauvignon. For some it was at $10, for others at $90.
Would the difference in price be reflected in a difference in taste? It sure would.
Volunteers rated the $90 bottle considerably more drinkable than the $10 bottle – even though both bottles, unbeknownst to them, contained exactly the same wine. And that wasn’t all. Subsequently, during a functional MRI scan Plassman found that this simple sleight of mind was actually reflected anatomically, in neural activity deep within the brain. Not only did the “cheaper” wine taste cheaper and the “dearer” one, well, dearer, the supposedly more expensive wine generated increased activation in the medial orbitofrontal cortex, the part of the brain that responds to pleasurable experiences.
Similar results have also been found with experts. In 2001 cognitive psychologist Frederic Brochet ………at the University of Bordeaux in France, took a midrange Bordeaux and served it in two different bottles. One was labeled as a splendid ‘Grand cru’ the other as a ‘Vin du table’
Would the wine buffs smell a rat? Not a chance. Despite the fact that, just as in the Plassman study, they were actually being served the same vintage, the experts appraised the different bottles differently. The ‘Grand cru’ was described as “agreeable, woody, complex, balanced and rounded,” whereas the ‘Vin du table’ was evaluated less salubriously – as “weak, short, light, flat, and faulty”
“So what ?” I hear you ask as you quaff your own version of Cold Duck or Grand Cru as you read my splendid and riveting Blogpost.
Well, it raises questions relating to subjectivity and objectivity.
If one can be persuaded (by the price, dining companions opinions, the wine waiter) that Cold Duck in a bottle with a $200 price tag is really worth that price and that if that worth is registered as delicious deep somewhere within ones brain, it begs the question as to what exactly is the relationship between subjective / objective reality / experience.
It also begs the question as to what might the wine connoisseurs opinion be of Cold Duck served up in a bottle with a serious sounding label such as Layfette Aldonis Vintage 1953.
Of course all of this sparks my entrepreneurial appetite, whets my international trading juices and my number 8 wire ‘Can Do’ Kiwi spirit. I have a plan. I will of course become a multimillionaire – Yes you guessed it – A few million bottles of Cold Duck – a few million empty bottles with expensive sounding labels and a bottling machine – don’t know why I didn’t forsoothing think of this sooner.
In no time at all I will have enough money to purchase the Heineken factory........ now there’s a drink the connoisseurs surely wouldn’t mistake amongst all the wine tasting.