What A Giant Soda Stream Reveals About The Fate Of Corals

Reefs will struggle as the oceans become more acidic.


Rich People Are Ruining Wine

Seven years ago, Donald Trump bought a vineyard and winery in Albemarle County, Virginia, a few miles south of Monticello.


What’s Actually Behind Cape Town’s Water Crisis

Blame austerity-obsessed technocrats, irresponsible development, and willful ignorance.


How The Wildfires Are Hurting California’s Wine Industry

As the blazes continue, they pose risks to businesses that account for the majority of Napa County’s economic output and employ almost half its workers.


What’s With TV Women’s Obsession With Wine?

Whether red or white, whether drunk by Alicia Florrick or Olivia Pope, the beverage has become a metaphor for anxieties that are uniquely feminine in their form.


How Millennials (Almost) Killed the Wine Cork

A new generation of wine drinkers came of age with screw caps and plastic bottle stoppers, but cork producers are mounting a campaign to win their loyalty: An Object Lesson.


Space Coffee: Astronauts Are Getting a Fancy New Espresso Machine

Astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS) get 15 or 16 sunrises per day, but, for a long time, they didn’t get to wake up and smell the coffee.


You Might as Well Buy Wine From New Jersey

Since even certified experts have trouble differentiating vintages, it’s hard for the lay drinker to justify paying a premium for bottles from well-regarded regions.

There’s a remarkable scene in the 2013 documentary Somm, in which Ian Cauble, one of the film’s four primary subjects, is doing a practice run of an exam he’s spent years preparing for. He must identify the vintage of six glasses of wine—three whites, three reds. He smells and sips the first glass, then lets his verdict take shape: “This one is from the New World, with a warm climate, due to the medium acid and the high alcohol. Very glossy, very extracted, lots of glycerol,” he says with increasing certainty. Employing practiced anaphora, Cauble concludes, “This wine is from the United States. This wine is from California. This wine is from Sonoma County. This wine is from the Russian River Valley.”

The wine was actually from Burgundy. He was only about 5,700 miles off.

If Cauble—who spent the better part of his days and nights with his wine flashcards—couldn’t get it right, what justification does the drinking public have for spending more than, say, $20 for a bottle with a prestigious provenance? It’s of course necessary to draw a floor of quality that rules out the likes of Franzia, but most people can’t tell the difference between any two bottles that meet that standard. There’s no argument—aside from supporting local or environmentally sustainable vintners—for spending any decent amount of money on a fine wine.

Well, except for one: 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.


Does Getting Drunk Make You Funnier?

A few years ago, two researchers invited a dozen folks from an ad firm out for drinks at the Hurricane Club in New York. But this wasn’t a social call. It was an experiment in the relationship between drinking and humor.


Why We Took Cocaine Out of Wine

When cocaine and alcohol meet inside a person, they create a third unique drug called cocaethylene. Cocaethylene works like cocaine, but with more euphoria.

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