The Days of Wine and Mouses

Airs Saturday at 4PM on 93.9 FM and NJPR and Sunday at 4PM on AM 820

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Saturday, March 17, 2012


When you take a sip of Cabernet, what are you tasting -- the grape? the tannins? the oak barrel? Or is it the price? Believe it or not, the most dominant flavor may be the dollars. Thanks to the work of some intrepid and wine-obsessed economists (yes, there is an American Association of Wine Economists), we have a new understanding of the relationship between wine, critics, and consumers.

One of these researchers is Robin Goldstein, whose paper detailing more than 6,000 blind tastings reaches the conclusion that “individuals who are unaware of the price do not derive more enjoyment from more expensive wine.”

Why, then, do we pay so much attention to critics and connoisseurs who tell us otherwise? That’s the question we set out to answer. You’ll hear from Steve Levitt, who admits his palate is “underdeveloped,” about a wine stunt he pulled on his elders at Harvard’s Society of Fellows; and wine broker Brian DiMarco pulled a stunt of his own on his wine-savvy employees.

Also in this hour, I witness an incident in a restaurant that would doom any dining experience: a customer one table away was served a salad with a dead mouse in it. How does a business respond in the face of such a disaster?

Vincent Herbert, the CEO of the restaurant in question, Le Pain Quotidien, explains what happened and how he coped. Crisis-control expert Andrew Gowers gives us some insight from facing the public on behalf of Lehman Brothers, post-collapse, and BP after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

Comments [3]


Interesting stuff about the subconscious correlation between wine price and quality. I have also examined this idea on my blog that some of your readers/listeners might be interested in reading. 

Keep up the good work
John - The Drinking Man

Mar. 18 2012 01:20 PM
susan from New York City

As someone whohas previously worked in several organic restaurant kitchens you are safe as long as safe food handling practices are followed every step of the way from vendor who should be required to follow the institutional food safety system know as HACCP (hazard analysis critical control point) and the restaurant food safety system know as SAFESERVE. Both of the systems applied together should have eliminated the problem. I agree that it should have been caught by at least one of the employees. I am sure it would have been if the salad had been washed first but as a customer of the Pain I know that they, and most restaurants do not was the mesclun salad because it is labeled triple washed.
Both home chefs and all restaurants should wash these bagged salad greens. Of course, as a prep cook, if I found a mouse in that bag when washing, the whole thing would be thrown out. Ick.

Mar. 17 2012 05:09 PM

This story confirmed my decision to never eat at Le Pain Quotidien.

Here are some other reasons: 1) They charge $3.65 for a "pot" of tea, which is a small teapot with one solitary teabag, and a top that does not close properly - none of them do, the staff are aware of this.
2) The second time I went, server was inattentive and indifferent.
3) My last visit, I asked my barely eaten salad to be wrapped up. It was accidentally thrown out and they offered me a mini-cupcake in lieu of my $12 salad.

Not cool!

Mar. 17 2012 04:39 PM

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