Can a Pretty Bottle Improve Plonk?

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SpilledWineI’ve mentioned before that I am a horrible pack rat. I’ve also reported that I have a collection of autographed hock pucks. I used to spend quite a bit of time on E-bay. It was like getting a present in the mail. I don’t use E-bay much anymore, but I do like to order things from Amazon.com. And I also have a collection of books — some just waiting to be read.

When I got home from another 13-hour work day this evening, I noticed that Amazon.com had sent me a present (that I had given to myself). I had ordered a book called Vintage Humor for Wine Lovers by Malcolm Kushner. It’s a collection of funny stories, quotes, jokes and poems that relate in some form or fashion to wine.

On twitter yesterday I posited that the “hotness” of a wine maker, or someone pouring wine could affect the perception of the wine by the taster. I argued that it was possible that the neophyte would enjoy a wine more when poured by an attractive person. And likewise, someone who considered himself a connoisseur, might judge a wine more harshly if poured by a pretty young girl. Other wine twitter’s responded that it would have no effect, mainly because most people have no idea what the wine maker looks like.

In my newly-arrived book is a little story about perception. It’s entitled “A Wine to Dye For.”

Red is the Color of my True Love’s Wine

On April 11, 2002, Internet news source Ananova reported that a group of 54 tasters in Bordeaux heaped praises on a red wine in an expensive bottle. There was just one problem. It was really a cheap white wine.

Psychologists conducting an experiment, added tasteless food dye to a cheap white wine and placed the mixture in an expensive-looking bottle. None of the “experts” detected the deception.

When tasted from the expensive bottle, the wine was called ‘robust,’ ‘fruity but charming,’ and ‘marvelous.’ When drunk from the proper bottle, it was called ‘weak,’ ‘thin,’ and ‘too tight.’

The tasters are still seeing red. But it has nothing to do with wine. – from Vintage Humor for Wine Lovers.”

You can also find a more detailed account of the switcheroo, in a post by Jonah Lehrer  at The Frontal Cortex. Or in his book,  Proust Was a Neuroscientist.

Now while the attractiveness of the wine maker or the person pouring the wine might not, on its own,  make one more inclined to give the wine a positive review, I think it might cause the taster to want to rate the wine more highly. Or for someone who prides himself on being completely unbiased towards a wine from a good-looking wine maker, that he might want to judge a wine more harshly when poured by a young, attractive pourer with very little wine knowledge to impart.

And while it certainly doesn’t seem “fair” to wineries and wine makers, the marketing and advertising people they contracted know this to be true. therefore,  it’s the job of the marketer or advertiser to help convince his client that there are always factors in the selling of the wine that have nothing to do with the wine itself.

Cheers!

Amy Corron Power, the WineWonkette ~ Amy Corron Power,
aka WineWonkette

  • http://www.wineclubreviewer.com Wine Club Reviewer

    It's amazing how the outside appearance affects our perceptions. A similar test was done with vodkas and it produced a similar result. The truth is, good wine is really in the eye… or mouth of the beholder. You can have just as much enjoyment from a $5 bottle of wine as you could from a $100, if you don't let your perceptions get in the way.

    Of course… how you manage that… I'm not too sure!

    • http://www.anotherwineblog.com WineWonkette

      I think wine is just like everything else. Have you ever noticed that people's attractiveness changes depending on their personality? An average person becomes beautiful when you see the kindness and generosity in her heart. Likewise, a really good-looking man gradually becomes downright ugly if he belittles others, is rude to waiters, and beats his dog.

      I think that sometimes that is a good thing. When you meet a wine maker who truly loves his craft, who puts his love and attention into the wine as if it was his child (and in a way it is), it makes the wine more special.

      Likewise, if the wine comes from the establishment of a huge conglomerate, who is simply in the business to make money, gobbling up the competition, laying off lots of workers, and building an “empire” sometimes that makes the wine simply another pedestrian offering that you could live without.

      I think the important thing for consumers is, the wine is good if it's good to you! And producers and marketers who put their very best into their wines, who sell them with integrity, and who truly have the wine-drinker in mind, will come out ahead in the end.

  • http://www.anotherwineblog.com WineWonkette

    I think wine is just like everything else. Have you ever noticed that people's attractiveness changes depending on their personality? An average person becomes beautiful when you see the kindness and generosity in her heart. Likewise, a really good-looking man gradually becomes downright ugly if he belittles others, is rude to waiters, and beats his dog.

    I think that sometimes that is a good thing. When you meet a wine maker who truly loves his craft, who puts his love and attention into the wine as if it was his child (and in a way it is), it makes the wine more special.

    Likewise, if the wine comes from the establishment of a huge conglomerate, who is simply in the business to make money, gobbling up the competition, laying off lots of workers, and building an “empire” sometimes that makes the wine simply another pedestrian offering that you could live without.

    I think the important thing for consumers is, the wine is good if it's good to you! And producers and marketers who put their very best into their wines, who sell them with integrity, and who truly have the wine-drinker in mind, will come out ahead in the end.

  • http://www.anotherwineblog.com WineWonkette

    I think wine is just like everything else. Have you ever noticed that people's attractiveness changes depending on their personality? An average person becomes beautiful when you see the kindness and generosity in her heart. Likewise, a really good-looking man gradually becomes downright ugly if he belittles others, is rude to waiters, and beats his dog.

    I think that sometimes that is a good thing. When you meet a wine maker who truly loves his craft, who puts his love and attention into the wine as if it was his child (and in a way it is), it makes the wine more special.

    Likewise, if the wine comes from the establishment of a huge conglomerate, who is simply in the business to make money, gobbling up the competition, laying off lots of workers, and building an “empire” sometimes that makes the wine simply another pedestrian offering that you could live without.

    I think the important thing for consumers is, the wine is good if it's good to you! And producers and marketers who put their very best into their wines, who sell them with integrity, and who truly have the wine-drinker in mind, will come out ahead in the end.

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