The expectations one has about a wine can affect the taste of the wine.  Experiments have documented that people given two tastes of the same wine but who are told one wine is more expensive than the other tend to rate the “more expensive” wine as better.  The idea is that we bring our expectations to all of our experiences, including wine tasting and therefore knowledge of price sets an expectation that affects our taste. 

This makes a lot of sense to me as a clinical psychologist.  It is not really the situation itself but our perception of the situation, with all of our thoughts, feelings, and expectations, that influences how we experience the situation.  I mostly practice from a cognitive-behavioral theory, which suggests that how we think about a situation affects how we feel and in turn how we behave.  So if we change our thoughts or our expectations, we can have a different reaction to a situation.

I live in New Jersey where the chambourcin grape is popular in winemaking.  I had never heard of this grape before so it really stood out to me the first time I tried it.  But I didn’t really enjoy it.  Each subsequent time I tried chambourcin, even at different wineries, I didn’t like it.  I thought I was keeping an open mind but it seems those expectations did in fact get in the way. 

I know this because I was unwittingly part of an “experiment.”  At one NJ winery, it somehow came up early in the tasting that I am not a fan of chambourcin.  Later in the tasting, the person pouring the wine snuck in a pour of something he didn’t identify at the time.  I enjoyed this wine and was surprised to learn after I drank it, that it was in fact chambourcin. 

Perhaps this particular winery just made great chambourcin?  Maybe, but that didn’t explain it all.  Ever since then I have not disliked chambourcin as much at any winery.  It is still not my favorite varietal but I don’t expect to dislike it anymore and now perhaps I evaluate it a little more fairly.  

Change your thoughts, change your reaction.

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