Jonah Lehrer discusses why we still buy expensive wines even though they taste the same as two-buck chucks (at least to the average-Joe wine drinker like me), while touching on how stories shape our experience.
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. The question is what those stories are. If the only story we can tell about wine is its price, then our pleasure will always [be] linked to cost, even though this link doesn’t exist in most taste tests. A much better (and more cost-effective) idea is to find some other narrative, to focus on aspects of wine that don’t require a big expense account. Knowledge is free.