Wow it’s been four months since I last posted on Joyful Days. While I feel slightly guilty about neglecting my lovely readers, this absence is a good sign that I’ve been busy enjoying my life. During this time, I learnt two fascinating facts about wine and happiness.
Wine drinkers can use these facts to save themselves a lot of money when buying wine. Non-drinkers, just be patient because at the end, as usual, there is a moral about happiness and a lesson on life.
Fact #1: The price of a wine makes no difference to its taste, but the perception of its price does.
A recent study by psychologist Richard Wiseman showed that when people were not shown the prices of wines, they could not tell the expensive wines from the cheap ones. Consequently there was no additional enjoyment when drinking expensive wines.
However, when the prices of the wines were mixed up and expensive wines labelled cheaply and cheap wines given high price tags, most people said the ‘expensive’ wines tasted better. It was the expectation of a good wine, created by the false information about its price, that led to greater enjoyment of the wine.
Does this mean we should all buy cheap wines from now on? Not exactly. What it means is that we can enjoy our wine better if we create a positive expectation of it. Such positive expectations can be created not merely by price, but alternatively by learning more about the origin and history of the wine.
I love the conclusion of the study: “And that’s why I will always be one of those annoying people who insists on muttering about malolactic fermentation while pouring Chardonnay, or on explaining the genetic kinship between Primitivo and Zinfandel when all you want is a damn glass to go with your red-sauce pasta. The reason I harass my dinner guests is that our stories have consequences, that our beliefs often matter more than the grapes.”
Fact #2: The same wine tastes better when you’re on holiday
Last night I was privileged to attend a dinner where a sommelier was present to introduce the various wines to us. The first wine was from a small village in Italy, and I casually asked if the wine would taste different if we drank it there compared to here in Singapore. Her answer surprised me.
“Yes,” she said, “the wine would taste different back in Italy, not because the wine itself was different but because you would be different. You would be on holiday, relaxed and happy, and it is for this reason that the wine would taste better to you.”
She further elaborated that couples on honeymoon would taste the wine at a vineyard, find it delightful, and buy a bottle to take home. A year later, to celebrate their first anniversary, they would open the wine, this time no longer on honeymoon but in the middle of their normal hustle and bustle lifestyle, and they would go “Hmm… I remember it tasting much better.”
This sommelier had effectively told me the same thing as the study quoted above. The state of mind of the wine drinker has a lot more to do with the enjoyment of the wine than the wine itself. Two wine experts can’t be wrong!
Wine and happiness
So here’s the promised moral of the story and lesson on life. Since life is a lot like wine – better with age, best enjoyed with friends, and slightly intoxicating – we can apply to life what we know about wine.
If you want to enjoy your wine: take an interest in it, relax and be happy.
If you want to enjoy your life: take an interest in it, relax and be happy.
Before you go, please take a moment to share this. Thank you!