E-mails arrive in my inbox regularly listing the latest from the American Association of Wine Economists, a nonprofit that presents and publishes studies by academic economists involving wine. Although many of these papers are impenetrable to a lay reader, every now and then a few catch my eye. The current e-mail has several. Make of these what you will.
Most fascinating to me is "When Does the Price Affect the Taste?" The authors, Johan Almenberg and Anna Dreber, designed an experiment in which hosts sometimes revealed the price of the wines they poured, and sometimes not, then asked everyone to rate the wines. The results? "Disclosing a high price ... produces considerably higher ratings, although only from women. Disclosing a low price, by contrast, does not result in lower ratings." In other words, as a host you won't adversely affect your guests' pleasure by telling them how much you paid for the wine you're serving. If it's a high-priced bottle women might like it even more. You won't change their perception of a bargain bottle, although they might peg you as a cheapskate.
A recent announcement from Caesars Entertainment implicitly acknowledges that lavish luxury hotels have saturated Las Vegas, but there is still plenty of room for more good restaurants.
The mega-company, which includes Caesars Palace, Paris Las Vegas, Planet Hollywood and Rio, outlined its plans to build an elaborate dining and retail venue on land it owns across the street from Caesars Palace. Its neighbors include the Venetian on the north, Paris to the south, and Caesars and the Mirage across the street. Now occupied by a honky-tonk mishmash of old-school casinos, cheap retail and several outdated hotels, including the Imperial Palace, Flamingo and Harrah's, the tract has always struck me as an eyesore.
Tasting last week through a couple dozen Oregon Pinot Noirs, mostly 2009s—and therefore quite fragile in structure—I found myself musing over why some of them made my eyes light up while others just seemed weak.
Some of my friends, those who prefer wines with transparency and nuanced qualities, would probably have loved all of them. This is the kind of wine, they might say, that's so hard to find in this era of big flavor (and often big alcohols). Others, the folks who like bigger, bolder wines, might have dismissed them all as wimpy.
Me, I am a wine omnivore. I like big, bounding Syrahs and sleek, racy Pinot Noirs. Even within the Pinot Noir category, I can appreciate the richness and plushness of some of the bigger wines even though my ideal for the grape is a wine with more transparency than density.