Sunday, November 4, 2007

Wine thy Name is Perception:

Jonah Lehrer post at The Frontal Cortex “The Subjectivity of Wine” expands the concept of perception.

“What these experiments neatly demonstrate is that the taste of a wine, like the taste of everything, is not merely the sum of our inputs, and cannot be solved in a bottom-up fashion. It cannot be deduced by beginning with our simplest sensations and extrapolating upwards. When we taste a wine, we aren't simply tasting the wine. This is because what we experience is not what we sense. Rather, experience is what happens when our senses are interpreted by our subjective brain, which brings to the moment its entire library of personal memories and idiosyncratic desires. As the philosopher Donald Davidson argued, it is ultimately impossible to distinguish between a subjective contribution to knowledge that comes from our selves (what he calls our "scheme") and an objective contribution that comes from the outside world ("the content"). Instead, in Davidson's influential epistemology, the "organizing system and something waiting to be organized" are hopelessly interdependent. Without our subjectivity we could never decipher our sensations, and without our sensations we would have nothing to be subjective about. In other words, we shouldn't be surprised that different people like different bottles of cheap wine.”

The challenge for restaurateurs is that guests taste with their senses, their notions and their worldview long before the actual food reaches the taste buds. The above experiments created value by adding a different label to the bottle or red food coloring to white wine. These simple steps which did not change the taste of the wine, rather what changed was the perception of the wine by the guest. One on the many tools you have available is this ability to influence perception, by naming or describing a menu item, by framing that item in a different presentation, by changing the lighting in the room, by adding a tall palm plant to your décor or by changing the uniforms that servers wear. It is all perception, however thoughts create reality.

Even before the first sip, Wine thy name is perception!