...and don't forget to email your questions or comments!
Click here to EMAIL!

Johnson's Law of Expectations

INTRODUCTORY NOTE: Most male wine geeks love to futz with numbers — whether they be scores, vintage dates, alcohol percentages, degrees brix, RS figures, rootstock IDs, cepage fractions, cellar temperatures or whatever else. If you do too, the following is mandatory reading. If not, well, I bet you don't like baseball either.

(December 19, 1998) Isn't it enchanting when a suspect bottle behaves beautifully?

     The reverse is also true — it can be devastating when a highly regarded bottle falls short. (Something we all are experiencing more often as prices march to the moon.)

     Tasting notes almost always fail to account for this.

     Anyhow, I've been thinking about this for a long time, and I'm ready now to unveil...

Johnson's Law of Expectations

     P = 2R - E

     That's all there is to it. P is Pleasure, R is Results and E is Expectations — all, as measured in Parker Points.

     So let's say you have a bottle of 1982 Margaux. Your Expectations are 96. Your Results are 86. But your actual Pleasure is only a measly 76, because it falls so short of your high expectations.

     Conversely, let's say you open a 1980 Clerc-Milon. Your Expectations are 79. Your Results, a very respectable 85. But your Pleasure, by my law, registers a lofty 91, because your expectations were so happily exceeded.

     If you're following so far, there are other twists you can put on the formula. For example, at dinners where you are comparing wines that you and others have brought, you can work with...

The Ownership Corollary:

     P = (2R-E) + M(R-E)

     If the bottle is MINE, assign a value of positive 1 to the coefficient M.

     If the bottle is MINE and I have MORE in the cellar, give M a value of positive 2.

     If the bottle is NOT MINE, let M equal zero — unless you are very competitive, in which case let M equal negative 1.

     Finally, a few regretful wine geeks will encounter a situation where the bottle is NOT MINE, but used to be represented in my cellar. Here, you have to figure in the manner in which your own stock was consumed. If you drank it all up, let M equal positive one—nostalgia can be a lovely experience. But if you sold your own supply of it, M could have a value as low as negative 2. It is a dreadful feeling to think you may have been wrong.

Top of page     Back to articles contents page



     Tasting Notes     Articles
Main Contents     Under $16     Search     Blog