How expectation shapes reality - wine taste testing

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  • http://lifehacker.com/5990737/why-we-ca ... e-from-bad

    This isn't the first test I've seen that had similar results. Here's another one, done with regular people, not experts: http://scienceblogs.com/cognitivedaily/ ... els-als-1/

    Then, of course, there's the humiliating (to the French, that is) "Judgement of Paris" wine tasting, in which a couple of blindfolded French wine judges chose California winners in every category, thinking every wine at the tasting was a French one. Oops. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Judgment_o ... %28wine%29

    All of this goes to prove that we let our biases override our senses. We do it with everything; a law change proposal by a popular Republican is viewed, and reacted to, differently than the same exact proposal by a popular Democrat. Identifying that we have these biases, and trying to account for them in our thinking and judgement, is the only thing that might give us a chance at really changing the world for the better, in my opinion. Unfortunately, the vast majority of us would rather just keep being heavily biased while thinking we aren't, and pretending we're even-keeled in everything we think.

    If we have any resident wine snobs, (I say that almost lovingly, by the way; I drink wine more than any other form of alcohol) I'd be curious to read their thoughts.
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    RolandDeschain
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  • It's not wine, but I do it and see it a lot with beer reviews. I usually know when I'm going to really like a beer because I'm a fan boy of the brewery, or in 1 case, where a friend of mine is now employed at a different brewery (The Commons). I try to be somewhat objective to give them good feedback, but I know I might like the beer more than I would otherwise without an affiliation. I also have a tendency to overrate 'classic' beers like Ayinger Celebrator Doppelbock because they're the standards of their style, even if they aren't the best.

    You also see a lot of groupthink in mass reviews. If one beer is highly sought after for being good (and for having a low bottle count, think sub 1200), it'll almost certainly get score after score at a 4.5+/5 level. To my credit (or discredit) I try to be a more critical reviewer when I'm tasting those beers, but then I risk going the other way of posting a low review to be contrarian.
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    Sarlacc83
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  • It's definitely to your credit, Sarlacc. Most people don't even try; as you point out with beer reviews. Frankly, I'd probably have trouble coming up with a major review category for ANY product that doesn't have this "phenomenon" happening in it.
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  • I enjoy wine a great deal. I live in the heart of wine country (Eastern WA), and have spent many evenings attending tastings at the hundreds of wineries within an hour's drive (or limo ride, on the good nights!) of my home. While I am by no means a wine expert, I do know what I enjoy.

    For some, expectation is everything. The cost of a bottle is a huge factor in setting such an expectation. Paradoxically, I've found that I prefer the taste of cheaper, younger wines, rather than something that has been absorbing the godawful taste of wood for a decade or more.
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  • Well, expectation does change perception. That's an indisputable fact. How much we LET it change it for ourselves, can vary wildly; though the vast majority let it affect it by a large margin. I don't think there's any true way to ensure that one's biases don't affect other things in ANY way, though. We can get pretty close, but no matter what, I think it still impacts it slightly at best.
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  • I don't know much about wine. I know I think I prefer Syrah but I've never done any tasting so it could all be perception bias, although I don't know where it would have come from. Maybe it's just I think the name is cool.

    I know I got turned on to Apothic Red recently and loved it. Anybody tried it?
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  • Well I certainly don't qualify as a wine "snob" as that suggests I have money. :)

    I do love red wine and it is the only alcohol I drink these days. I remember once talking with this wine connoisseur. I wanted to impress my girlfriend with a nice bottle of wine to go with a romantic dinner I was planning. He ran through some general knowledge to help me make a decision but what most impressed me was when he told me that the best wine is the wine that tastes the best to me. He said that may be a $150 bottle of wine, or it may be a bottle on the $7.99 rack.

    The only way to find out of course was to explore. He did end up pushing me towards a bottle that was in the $25-35 range. I remember it was quite excellent.

    The problem is, my palette does know the difference between ridiculously amazing top-shelf wine and bottom barrel (not necessarily in price but in quality). No matter what, I can taste the difference. Now, that's not to say there have not been amazing wines for amazing prices. There have been a surprising amount actually. I've had wine that absolutely knocked my doors off when I was told it was a $14 bottle of wine. Easily tasted in the $50+ class.

    On the flip side, I've bought $80 bottles of wine thinking I was going to impress my guests, and it tasted like shit.

    Still, it would be a rare feat to trick my palette into thinking I'm drinking an outstanding vintage, jammy Zin or Cab to learn it's Bottom shelf/box stuff. It almost always has a scent to it I can smell a mile away.
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  • Thank goodness I don't have to ask anyone here about wines. We have a wine expert in the family who works in the Seattle area for Southern Wine & Spirits.

    And having been a server for many years has lots of restaurant contacts so knows what to tell her taste less Father what wine goes with what.

    My knowledge goes to desert wines like CSM's Muscat Canilli, Columbia's wonderful Ice Wine and a couple of European brands Karri has shown me that go for 3 digits dollar wise. Any wine that goes with choclate is normally ok with me.

    In wine, what you like is the key no matter what the dumbass wine "snobs" tell you.

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  • Just for the heck of it, if any of you are looking for an absolutely sterling pinot noir for a really decent price ($35 for a single estate, $25 for a blend), try Raptor Ridge. They make some of the best wines in the Willamette Valley, but the owner's whole philosophy is that wine should be affordable.
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  • I'm not a big fan of pinot noirs. I like cabernet sauvignons, but don't drink them anymore because they stain the hell out of my lips, and it looks funny. (I rarely drink a moderate amount; I don't think often, perhaps once/month on average, but when I do, I drink a lot.) I typically drink pinot gris/grigio, nowadays; and 14 Hands has a fantastic one for the price. ($12ish/bottle, often on sale for $9, full regular price is like $15.)

    14 Hands doesn't have a bad wine. Everything they make ranges from good, to amazing, IMO. I can't recommend them enough; but as many have pointed out, everyone has different tastes, and drink what you like.
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  • I tend to like pinot noirs, pinot grigios, and rieslings okay, but my absolute favorites are tempranillos from Spain. I don't worry too much about the "quality," honestly. I just know the type I prefer and will try various brands within that type and find what I like.
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