Hacking your mood

I need some opinions here. This is the lead from an article in the Telegraph:

Drinkers’ brains are tricked into thinking a glass of white wine is better and more expensive tasting when exposed to the red or blue background lighting than those in rooms with green or white background lighting.


I understand similar studies have shown that wine sipped from glass goblets tastes better than the same wine slurped through a straw from a Dixie cup, and that wine from a bottle with a tasteful label is preferable to a wine emblazoned with an image of Dick Cheney sunning himself in a Speedo. Such is human perversity.

Why is manipulating the aesthetic experience called out as trickery? Is Monet tricking you into tranquility with his water lily paintings? PLEASE NOTE: they’re not real water lilies. They’re only daubs of paint smeared around to look that way.

In a purely transaction-oriented society where Quantification and Optimization are ascendant, all art is marketing. That scent of lemon in the air? It’s only there to promote moral behavior. The fresh-baked bread? I just want you to buy my house.

But ultimately, if you worry too much about how you’re being manipulated, you can’t enjoy your wine under any circumstances. That’s when you have to shut down your left brain. De gustibus non est disputandum.

I worked in a wine store one summer, and I met a lot of people who were timid and self-conscious when it came to buying. “Is this a good one? Is it too cheap? Is it a good deal?” I learned a valuable wine-buying technique, and now I’m going to share it with you. Decide if you want red or white, pick a price that you’re willing to pay, and then pick a label you like. Done. “But you’re not drinking the label!” you might object. But of course you are. Get over it. You’re drinking the label, the bottle, and the glass. You’re drinking the sunset, and your companion, and the confidence that let you choose the wine and move on.

Enjoy it.

6 thoughts on “Hacking your mood”

  1. Lovely. In my family there we like to gaze upon a happy scene and mumble “They just think their happy.” I’ve taken to adding a pregnant pause and appending “me too.”

  2. Well frankly I’m shocked! Are you implying that I’m not actually hearing your voice in my head when I look at the black squiggly things on the monitor?! Or worse, that the green sqiggly things aren’t truly more attractive than the black ones?!

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