Is there really a difference between a Romanée-Conti and a bottle of Manischewitz?
Probably, but according to research by Stanford and The California Institute of Technology, just raising the price of Manischewitz a thousand dollars would make it taste better.
A group of scientists – who clearly have way, way too much time on their hands – mapped the brains of people while they tasted wines to see how much their pleasure centers would light up. It turns out that even when two wines were identical, the one people were told was more expensive produced considerably more brain activity, meaning they liked it better.
While this is somewhat surprising, it also makes sense in an Emperor’s New Clothes kind of way, and can probably be generalized to all experiences.
Meaning that if you’re planning, for example, on getting your wife a diamond ring for her birthday, forget it and just order a cubic zirconia from the Shop-At-Home Network and stick it in a Tiffany’s box:
WIFE: Is this what I think it is?
HUSBAND: It’s just my way of saying “Happy Birthday.”
WIFE: Wow. It must’ve cost a fortune.
HUSBAND: It doesn’t matter what it cost. What’s important is the look on your face right now — that’s priceless.
Or if your husband’s snobby wine friends are coming to dinner, just decant a bottle of Two Buck Chuck and tell them it’s a rare first-growth Bordeaux. They’ll marvel at the complexity and say they can really taste the “terroir,” at which point you can say “Terroir is bullshit! — at least that’s what Malcom Gluck says.”
Not only will you have dropped the name of a wine expert wine snobs love to hate, you’ll be 100% correct.
And then you can push things even farther and bring out that can of Spam® they brought as a gag gift last time they came over and tell them it’s imported patè.
Best of all, while this kind of sneaky, deceitful behavior might have made you feel guilty in the past, you can now feel good about yourself because you’re actually giving everyone a better experience.
And what could be wrong with that?