Monday, December 3, 2007

The Art of Wine - Supply and Demand

Since it seems that response to the presale of the recently discovered ancient Chinese manuscript The Art of Wine by Foo Yu has been less than enthusiastic, truthfully downright pathetic, here is another excerpt from the book in an attempt to lure the unsuspecting.

Chapter 7: Supply and Demand

The battle between producer of wine and consumer of wine is never ending. On one hand the producer desires to sell all of his wares at the highest possible price and thus be fat and prosperous.

On the other hand, the consumer desires to purchase only the best wares, and at the leanest prices so that he may be fat and prosperous.

The battle can be made to favor the producer by taking strategic steps to induce the consumer to increase their level of purchases. Here is an illustrative example:

A distressed Ga Cha ran up to me. “What is wrong with you?” I asked. “You look like you’ve been attacked by a Ninja.”

“Master Yu, there is possible disaster at hand at the winery,” Ga Cha explained. “We have produced a large amount of wine this year but it seems to be selling very slowly and we are worried that we will get stuck with it.”

“Why aren’t people buying the wine? Isn’t it good?” I asked.

Ga Cha lowered his voice. “To tell you the truth, Master, this year’s crop is not as good as usual. I think people are noticing.”

I went to my cabinet and pulled out a couple of porcelain vessels. “Do you really think people can tell the difference?” I asked Ga Cha as I walked back carrying one in each hand.

“Yes, of course.”

“Here are two samples, my friend. I would like you to try each of them and then tell me your honest impressions.” I put two cups in front of him. Into the first cup I poured from an ornately carved vessel the ‘Empress Dowager Reserve Blend.’ Into the second cup I poured from the ‘Mode of Production Wine’ that was packaged in a plain gray vessel.

I noticed Ga Cha was also observing the price tags on each, which I had not removed. 75,000 yuan for the Empress Dowager and 2 buck for the Mode of Production.

I motioned for Ga Cha to try each wine, which he did. “Ga Cha, what do you think of these two wines?”

Ga Cha looked up at me. “Clearly the first, the Empress Dowager Reserve, is the superior wine, he declared. This other one, the Mode of Production, is weak and inferior.” He looked at me as if I had been asking a rhetorical question.

“Are you sure about that?” I asked.

“Yes, Master, no doubt about it.”

“Well Ga Cha, that is where you are wrong. Those two vessels contain the same exact wine, but I poured it into two different containers to play around with your shrunken brain.”

Ga Cha’s eyes grew big. “Get out!” He exclaimed. “They are the same?”

“Yes, the same,” I smugly repeated. “Your eyes have overruled your sense of smell and taste, automatically assuming that the more ornate package contained the superior beverage. But your eyes are wrong.”

Ga Cha shook is head in disbelief. “Well gollee,” he said, embarrassed. “I feel like an idiot.”

“True,” I acknowledged, “but you are not alone. You see what the difference in packaging did for your perception of the wine. Also I saw your eyes wander to the price tag and I am sure that also helped make up your mind about which wine was better.”

“Master,” he said, “please kill me. I don’t deserve to live!”

“So my dear Ga Cha,” have you learned from this?

“Yes, yes, Master Yu! I will go back to the factory and have them assemble more fancy packaging at once!”

“Here is something else you can do,” I added. I pulled out a small scroll and placed it next to the Empress Dowager vessel. Ga Cha looked at it. On the scroll it said, ‘Perfect 100 points.’ [editor's note: see placard next to the vessel in the above picture]

“Place scrolls like this next to the wines you are selling and people will shove each other out of the way to buy the wines,” I told him.

“Perfect?” Asked Ga Cha. “Who says it is ‘perfect’?

“Does it matter?” I said with a sly smile. “Put it out, my friend.”

“And what the heck are ‘points,’” Ga Cha asked.

“Make them and people will come,” I assured him.

That is an excerpt from chapter 7. If that doesn’t get you to order the book on presale, then I guess there will have to be another excerpt later on. Don’t forget, though, you will be ordering a book that has gotten 96 points.

On a more serious note, I did run across this article that mentions real wine being found in an ancient Chinese vessel, this one about 9,000 years old. Check it out.

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