Study after study has shown that people enjoy a wine more the more the pay for it. If someone believes a wine to be of high quality—if they view its producer as truly high-end—it ends up tasting better to them. “Marketers cannot assume,” the authors of one 2008 study in the Journal of Wine Economics wrote, “that intrinsic product attributes, even when experienced, will be weighted and interpreted accurately by consumers.” Since price is a strong predictor of enjoyment, one could make the argument that the wine industry is actually set up according to a certain logic: People pay more to buy the products they end up enjoying more.For most of the 20th century, California’s vineyards were viewed as inferior to Europe’s.
A drinker's preconceptions, as those wine economists noted, shape his or her experience. In a 2001 study that is so outrageous as to appear apocryphal, all 54 tasters—some of them professed experts—were fooled into thinking that a white wine was actually red. All it took to dupe them was a few drops of red food-coloring, which were used to make one of the two glasses of the same white wine take on a different tint. (That finding is not as dispiriting as one wine journal's 2009 paper that found that one in four subjects preferred dog food to some pâtés—but it’s close.)
In other words, the expertise of snooty people is revealed to be a game of bullshit. How this can be expanded to understand the mystique wrapped in the cloak of bullshit that's behind the Pono music player, vinyl records and vintage guitars is one for the scholars to work out.
I have always been skeptical of people who push things in your face because they are authorities and experts. Really? And how do you reconcile that with the fact that independent verification usually reveals expertise to be nonexistent?
Oh, and don't get me started on Baby Boomers, man.