Is wine from California better? The most recent issue of Grey Matter mentioned a recent study that shows your brain experiences more pleasure from a wine when you THINK the wine is of higher quality than when you think it’s of lower quality — even if you’re tasting two glasses of the same $2 Buck Chuck. If preconceived notions affect the amount of pleasure we experience, how about our actions?

This study shows that our biases influence more than the amount of pleasure we experience from the wine itself. They influence our perception of everything we experience along with it! Researchers from Cornell studied restaurant patrons who were offered a free glass of wine along with their prix-fixe French meal. Some were told the wine was from Noah’s Winery in California, others that it was from Noah’s in North Dakota. Diners told that the wine was from California rated the wine as better, the food better as better, and the entire meal experience as better than those who thought the wine was from North Dakota. They even ate more of their food! Even more telling, however, was the long-term impact. Diners receiving wine from California also made more return reservations at the restaurant.

Perception apparently isn’t more than reality; it is reality. What does this mean for marketers promoting “authenticity”?