I found this article to be intriguing and confirmatory of thoughts I've had about contextual "influencers" on people's opinions of food and drink.
>>>"""The take home lesson of this little experiment at Oxford is a familiar one. People’s esthetic reactions to external stimuli are powerfully dependent on their expectations. They will look at a supposed Rembrandt portrait and, “knowing” that it was painted by the master, be suitably impressed. Indeed, this is why “people travel to galleries around the world to see an original painting.” Something in the knowledge that the painting is original arouses intense pleasure. It’s not so much the art work itself as that awareness that people enjoy. On the other hand, if people “know” that a painting is fake, they will experience far different, more complex and less pleasurable thoughts and emotions–even if the painting is, in fact, real.
Back to my opening example of offering you the Lafite. It almost doesn’t matter whether or not the Lafite is real, or just some little Sonoma County Cabernet that costs $14. It’s irrelevant. What matters, according to the Oxford study, is what you think you know about it. That, in turn, depends on what I told you–and that, in turn, has a lot to do with how much you trust me, since I’m the “expert” in wine, and you’re not.
It follows from this that blind tasting is the only objective way to come to a conclusion about wine, but something else follows, also, that isn’t generally discussed in these types of conversations: wines of a similar variety and style are more alike than not, even when their scores vary."""<<<<
This rings true.
I've often wanted to put the $3.99 La Finca Argentinian barrel aged Malbec (Trader Joe's) into a much more "expensive" labeled bottle, then ask for comparative review by folks.
Have you ever done this?
What are your thoughts on the Oxford study? The conclusion of the study is more complex than how I've couched it, but I think it offers a springboard to discuss how we think of food and drink, and how we appreciate a chef, or read a review…..
PS, Speaking of "experts," I saw Jeffrey Steingarten today sitting around chatting after finishing lunch with three pals at a local strip mall Chinese restaurant here in Arlington, Virginia where we sometimes have the lunch special. (Table had been cleared.) He played the game, when I asked if he wasn't Jeffrey Steingarten, that he wasn't, and blithely said "Who is he?" Then one pal chimed in, to "bolster" the lie. Both of them had a slight smirk, Oh ho, dumb TV fan. His other two friends just sat there while I said, "Iron Chef Judge, author, Harvard graduate." I had planned on buying them a round of drinks. I apologized for bothering them, wished them Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah, and went back to my table six feet away. I honestly thought he'd "come clean" as they left, but he didn't. Really, Mr. Steingarten, you ARE like you seem on TV!
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