I’ve often said to Jon, an expert on wines, that I believed any effect using a certain shape wine glass for a particular wine had on the taste of the wine was all in the drinker’s head. My belief was confirmed in the book Predictably Irrational (Dan Ariely, Harper).
The book states, “If you’re really serious about your wine, you may want to go all out and purchase the glasses that are specific to burgundies, chardonnays, champagnes, etc. Each type of glass is supposed to provide the appropriate environment, which should bring out the best in these wines (even though controlled studies find that the shape of the glass makes no difference at all in an objective blind taste test, that doesn’t stop people from perceiving a significant difference when they are handed the “correct glass”). Moreover, if you forget the shape of the glass really has no effect on the taste of the wine, you yourself may be able to better enjoy the wine you consume in the appropriately shaped fancy glass.”
I think this is similar to the effects of good proposal packaging. That is, though points are not typically awarded for appearance and packaging, when reviewing a proposal which is professional in appearance and packaged in a way that makes it easy to handle and review, the reviewer will be inclined to be less critical of the content and award a higher score.
I wonder if we could get Mr. Ariely to conduct a controlled study to prove this (though I’d guess it wouldn’t work to well having the reviewers blindfolded :-) ).