Decoded: Why expensive wines taste better

Expensive wines appear to be tastier, say scientists who have found that a higher price tag on the bottle causes the reward centre in the brain to trick the taste processing regions.

The phenomenon that identical products are perceived differently due to differences in price is called the “marketing placebo effect.”

As with placebo medications, it has an effect solely due to ascribed properties: “Quality has its price!”

“However, it has so far been unclear how the price information ultimately causes more expensive wine to also be perceived as having a better taste in the brain,” said Bernd Weber, from the University of Bonn in Germany.

The researchers assessed how different prices are translated into corresponding taste experiences in the brain, even if the wine tasted does not differ.

Thirty participants took part in the study, of which 15 were women and 15 were men, with an average age of around 30 years.

The wine tasting took place lying down in an MRI scanner, allowing brain activity to be recorded “online” while participants were tasting the wines. Each time, the price of the wine was shown first.

Only then around a millilitre of the respective wine was given to the participants via a tube in their mouths. The participants were then asked to rate via a button on a nine-point scale how good the wine tasted to them.

Their mouths were then rinsed with a neutral liquid and the next identical wine sample was given for tasting.

Researchers conducted the tests using an average to good quality red wine with a retail bottle prize of 12 euros.

In the MRI scanner, the price of this wine was shown randomly as 3, 6 and 18 euros.

“As expected, the subjects stated that the wine with the higher price tasted better than an apparently cheaper one,” said Hilke Plassmann from the INSEAD Business School in France.

Identical wine leads to a better taste experience when a greater quality expectation is associated with the wine due to its price.

WineThe measurements of brain activity in the MRI scanner confirmed this. The research team discovered that above all parts of the medial pre-frontal cortex and also the ventral striatum were activated more when prices were higher.

While the medial pre-frontal cortex particularly appears to be involved in integrating the price comparison and thus the expectation into the evaluation of the wine, the ventral striatum forms part of the brain’s reward and motivation system.

“The reward and motivation system is activated more significantly with higher prices and apparently increases the taste experience in this way,” said Weber.

“Ultimately, the reward and motivation system plays a trick on us,” said INSEAD post-doctoral fellow .

When prices are higher, it leads us to believe that a taste is present that is not only driven by the wine itself, because the products were objectively identical in all of the tastings.

Changing tastes brew bitter times for Japan’s beer makers

From beer gardens on the rooftops of department stores to fireworks extravaganzas to quiet, wood-paneled craft breweries, Japanese seem to quaff an awful lot of beer in the summer.

But beer consumption has been tanking for five years straight in Japan, as the younger generation shies away from the obligatory after-work drinking that was a trademark of the dark-suited heroes of Japan Inc.

Japan’s annual per capita beer consumption fell about 7 per cent between 2010 to 2015, according to a study by major beer maker Kirin.

The future outlook is for more of the same. It’s such an obvious trend that there’s a Japanese phrase to describe it, “beerooh banareh,” or “leaving beer,” a gradual decline that hit after beer drinking peaked in about the mid-1990s.

In this photo, a server pours a beer into a glass at a beer restaurant Spring Valley Brewery in Tokyo. Major beer maker Kirin opened a craft brewery – still relatively uncommon in Japan – in Tokyo’s fashionable Daikanyama district two years ago: Spring Valley Brewery. Kirin’s brewery has a western menu, spacious terrace and beers with names like DayDream and Jazzberry that are brewed behind transparent walls. (AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi)

Younger Japanese tend to be more independent-minded than their baby boom generation parents or their grandparents, who saw going out for beers with their office bosses and co-workers as a call of duty.

Brews also are losing out in Japan to a wide variety of other liquors, from wines to “kanchuhai” fruity cocktails, whiskies and cheaper beer-like drinks, and of course, sake.

Naturally, all this worries Haruhiko Matsuba, marketing manager for Asahi Breweries, the industry leader in Japan.

“The custom is getting lost,” said Matsuba, who says he enjoys a beer or two a day. “Beer can offer joy, happiness and smiles, and so everyone should try beer again.”

Dangerously cheesy? Cheetos pop-up restaurant opens in NYC

A three-day pop-up restaurant devoted to Cheetos, yes Cheetos, opened in Manhattan on Tuesday, with every table already booked with diners ready to pay between $8 and $22 for such creations as Cheetos meatballs, Cheetos crusted fried pickles, Cheetos tacos, Mac n’ Cheetos and even Cheetos cheesecake.
“I worked hard to incorporate Cheetos into every dish and not just say, `Oh here’s a dish with a sprinkle of Cheetos on top,”’ said spiky-haired celebrity chef Anne Burrell, who was given the task of coming up with the menu for The Spotted Cheetah. “I really tried to think about the flavor of each Cheeto and what would pair really well with it.”
But the question seemingly on everyone’s orange-coated lips is: Why?
Makers of the popular puffed cornmeal snack say the pop-up was the deliciously shrewd result of whimsy and marketing after executives noticed Cheetos fans posting their own recipes incorporating the crunchy treat on social media.
“So we thought it was a great trend to try to capitalize on and bring to life an idea, a concept like this really that spoke to how you could use Cheetos in such a variety of different ways,” said Ryan Matiyow, a marketing manager for Frito-Lay, a unit of PepsiCo. He said the 300 reservations available for the eatery’s three nights sold out within six hours.
Food Network star Anne Burrell shows off some of her creations for an all-Cheetos menu for a three-day pop-up restaurant, during a press preview, Tuesday Aug. 15, 2017, in New York. Menu includes, Cheetos meatballs, Cheetos crusted fried pickles, Cheetos tacos, Mac n’ Cheetos and Cheetos cheesecake.
Burrell, host of Food Network’s “Worst Cooks in America” and other programs, showed off some of her dishes as her staff scrambled to prepare the food and set places in a dining room decorated with swaths of orange fabric and images of brand mascot Chester the Cheetah.
Crumbled Cheetos are part of the breading on chicken Milanese and fried green tomatoes. A garnished Cheetos beverage accompanies a grilled cheese, tomato and bacon sandwich that gets an extra crunch from Cheetos. Desserts feature the cinnamon sugar Cheetos variety known as Sweetos.
Melissa Abbott, a vice president of the Hartman Group, a consumer research firm, said the Cheetos restaurant is partly a reaction to the emphasis on health in today’s food culture.

“All of the salad and juice bars and all that … At some point you have to balance the scales a little bit and have some fun.”

How walnuts can help control appetite

Consuming walnuts activates an area in the brain associated with regulating hunger and craving for food, says a new study.

The findings, published online in the journal Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism, shed light on how walnuts discourage overeating by promoting feelings of fullness.

“We don’t often think about how what we eat impacts the activity in our brain,” said the study’s first author Olivia Farr from the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Centre (BIDMC) in Boston in the US.

“We know people report feeling fuller after eating walnuts, but it was pretty surprising to see evidence of activity changing in the brain related to food cues, and by extension what people were eating and how hungry they feel,” Farr said.

To determine exactly how walnuts quell craving for food, Farr and colleagues used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to observe how consuming walnuts changes activity in the brain.

The scientists recruited a small group of volunteers with obesity to live in BIDMC’s Clinical Research Centre (CRC) for two five-day sessions.

During one session, volunteers consumed daily smoothies containing 48 grams of walnuts.

During their other stay, they received a walnut-free but nutritionally comparable placebo smoothie, flavoured to taste exactly the same as the walnut-containing smoothie.

As in previous observational studies, participants reported feeling less hungry during the week they consumed walnut-containing smoothies than during the week they were given the placebo smoothies.

Functional MRI tests administered on the fifth day of the experiment gave the team a clear picture as to why.

While in the machine, study participants were shown images of desirable foods like hamburgers and desserts, neutral objects like flowers and rocks and less desirable foods like vegetables.

benefits of walnuts, health benefits of walnuts, health benefits of eating walnuts, indian express, indian express newsWhen participants were shown pictures of highly desirable foods, fMRI imaging revealed increased activity in a part of the brain called the right insula after participants had consumed the five-day walnut-rich diet compared to when they had not.

“This is a powerful measure,” said Christos Mantzoros, Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School.

“When participants eat walnuts, this part of their brain lights up, and we know that’s connected with what they are telling us about feeling less hungry or more full,” Mantzoros said.

This area of the insula is likely involved in cognitive control and salience, meaning that participants were paying more attention to food choices and selecting the less desirable or healthier options over the highly desirable or less healthy options.

How to Find Good Indian Restaurant?

It is often believed that Indian food is just a pot full of spice, enough to make your inners churn. But that is not entirely true. While Indian food does tend to be on the spicy-side of cuisine, it has a large variety of dishes which are anything but spicy. With so much variety being offered to you, we wonder why you would not like to taste some of it! While you are on it, we provide you a quick lowdown on what to expect when ordering Indian food and how to do so:

What is Indian food anyway?

Unlike popular perception, Indian food does not only include food from India. Indian food refers to food from India AND its neighbouring countries. With a somewhat similar culinary culture, the food in and around the Indian subcontinent is highly rich in spices, condiments and the use of vegetables and gravy is essential in Indian food. That is not it, as Indian food offers some brilliant sweet dishes too which are so delicious that you might think you are tasting silver. Too fancy!!

What is an Indian restaurant food like?

An Indian restaurant would largely divide its menu the way any other restaurant does, viz. appetizers, drinks, main course, desserts and such. Allow us to give you a quick sneak peek into what all you can expect in each category!

  • Appetizers: Indian food has delicious appetizers. Be it the good old kebab or the all-famous samosa, India appetizers are usually deep fried and served with a mix of sauces such as chutney or even yogurt. These add-ons help mellow down the spicy flavour of appetizers and provide a richer texture to them. Pakora too is one appetizer that is quite popular among the masses.
  • Drinks:Indian drinks tend to appeal to the sweeter side of your taste buds. The queen of Indian drinks is lassi, a shake kind of drink made from churning yogurt with added sugar. Another popular drink is Panakam, which is made from water, ginger, sugar and limejuice. If you want to stick to some alcoholic drinks, Indian Pale Ale could be your buy.
  • Main Course: Many Indian restaurants provide an all-vegetarian menu. They serve brilliant curries which are made with different vegetables and based on yogurt or coconut marinade, among others. Ordering a curry is a must when you go to any Indian restaurant as that is usually the most special food item available on the menu.
  • Desserts: Indian desserts are super flamboyant and fancy. Most of eh desserts are milk-based and rich in sugar content. A highly popular pudding is kheer, which is made from rice soaked in milk, cooked with raisins, almonds and saffron. The sweet dishes will straight away touch your heart with their rich flavour and texture.


If you are looking for an Indian restaurant in and around Brick Lane, then you can hit gold with Jasmine Brick Lane restaurant. It has received numerous awards and has a food hygiene rating of 5/5! Moreover, the chef has received the Master Chef Delhi Award, need we say more about the chef’s expertise in Indian cuisine? Also, book in advance and you can get 20% off on your total billing amount! Go, hog!

How to make an Espresso without Espresso Machine

Imagine spending a whole day working and returning home too tired to do something. Well that is something not to be imagined as it might have happened to any one of us throughout our life. Now imagine enjoying a cup of Espresso to calm down yourself. Suddenly you are able to tolerate the hectic Mondays, with a promise for better things to come later. Most of the best coffee drinks that are delivered today are made with the help of expensive coffee makers and Espresso Machines which were invented in Italy around about 100 years ago.

espressoThe perfect Espresso involves setting the right temperature for the beans to grind under controlled maintained pressure. Without an Espresso Machine, it may seem to be a Herculean Task but still there are a few alternatives which are present to us today.

Being woken up to a scent of brewing coffee would bring a delight to most faces but an avid coffee consumer would testify that having a cup of coffee can be an expensive proposition. Either you end buying your coffee at cafeteria every day or buying yourself Espresso Machines, it is your pockets that are affected the deepest. So is there a middle way to all this? Fortunately, Yes. There is an alternative. You can create your own coffee without an Espresso Machine.

Steps to make Espresso without Espresso Machine using Moka Pot

Instead of spend chunks of money buying Espresso Machine which don’t work for more than 1.5 years on average, a cheaper alternative is available to us. For about $10 you can buy a Moka Pot which can basically do the work of an Espresso Machine. The Moka Pot consists of a stovetop teapot which is specifically used for to brew your coffee beans. It forces the steam to pass right through your ground coffee creating your espresso. The Moka Pot is made out of stainless steel and contains two chambers which are separated by a metal filter cup. The cup contains a few holes which are useful as steam passes through it to rise to the top end of the chamber. The top Chamber contains the final espresso with a handle to help pour it.

  • Firstly, gather a clean Moka Pot and very fine coffee beans from which you want your espresso to be made.
  • Now, unscrew the top chamber. It has to be separated from the bottom chamber and also the metal filter cup has to be removed.
  • Till the valve level, pour some water into the bottom chamber. You can find the valve on one of the sides of the bottom chamber.
  • Next, you have to place the metal filter cup inside the bottom chamber. Also put the coffee beans into the cup until it is full.
  • Shake the cup well so that the metal filter is completely full and nicely leveled. Avoid pushing the coffee beans with firm hands as it could impede the water from rising up from the bottom chamber.
  • Now, Screw back the top chamber on the metal cup and the bottom chamber. Make sure it is tightly done.
  • Put the chamber on stove so as to boil the water. In few minutes, you would find the drink brewed and rising up to the top chamber.
  • Finally, you can remove the Pot from the gas stove. Pour the coffee according to your taste.

Steps to Make Espresso using an AeroPress

Although there is still some debate whether the AeroPress can actually create a drink worthy of being qualified as Espresso, but still the taste of the cappuccino is incredible. The AeroPress is also an inexpensive item like the Moka Pot. It consists of a plastic chamber along with cup, filter and a plunger. The plunger functions to provide the required pressure for the coffee beans to brew. It may not be the most eye-pleasing product out there in the market but it is definitely effective.

  • Gather some fine ground coffee along with filters for the AeroPress.
  • Pour some water into a separate container and put it on boil. Allow it to sit down for a couple of minutes thereafter.
  • Now, screw open the AeroPress to separate it from the plunger and the cap.
  • Screw the cap back to the bottom chamber after placing the filter inside it.
  • Put the ground coffee inside the bottom chamber. Tamp it down evenly.
  • Next, take another filter and put it on the top of tampered coffee. It is done so as to prevent the water ruining the coffee grounds.
  • Now pour the boiling water from the container into the chamber. Assemble the AeroPress back together.
  • Now press the AeroPress plunger to extract your coffee manually.


You can find a few other ways of creating your brew with an espresso machine, but these two methods provided us with the best results. But then, it also depends upon the consumer’s taste. But the fact is, for an average drinker, there are a lot of options still open to drink espresso besides buying a specific machine for it.

Why You Should Own Espresso Coffee Makers?

Making espressos is not at all an easy task. The entire process involved in the preparation of espressos is quite complex and delicate. It requires a lot of time and efforts for brewing a perfect cup of espresso manually. In order to get the perfect taste and aroma in your espresso, you must keep in mind that the luke warm water must thoroughly blend with the grounded coffee. Preparing espressos manually at home is a quite challenging task however there are various espresso machines available in the market that can really make things easier for you. These espresso machines help you get the perfect taste, color, thickness and aroma in your espressos. Also, espresso machines have got many added advantages that makes them a must have home appliance.


Advantages of owning an Espresso Machines

Owning an espresso machine either for your home or office can be really beneficial. It offers you the liberty to prepare your espresso just the way you want it to be. Moreover, here we have listed some of the added advantages of owning an espresso machine.

Saves Money

Although you might be thinking that you are investing too much of your hard earned money in buying an espresso machine but, this will eventually help you save money. Initially investing in an espresso machine will lead to savings in long run. Just imagine the amount of money you have to spend in a coffee shop on daily, weekly or monthly basis for having that lip smacking espresso. Owning an espresso machine will allow you to prepare espressos yourself that too according to you taste and preferences. This will ultimately help you cut down the expenses on your coffees in the coffee shop. You can simply make use of your coffee maker and get a rich flavored espresso cup within few minutes.

Easy to Use and Convenient

Espresso machines are quite handy and easy to use. They help you prepare a lip smacking cup of espresso within just few minutes that too at your own comfort and convenience. There are times when you are craving for good cup of espresso coffee but don’t have the time to go out and visit a café. This is where espresso makers can come in quite handy. It enables the users to prepare a perfect cup of espresso seamlessly whenever they need one. This not just saves money but also saves a lot of time. Preparing espressos at the comfort of your home is very convenient and time saving.

Refreshes your Mood

Most of people love to kick start their day with an amazing cup of coffee. A freshly prepared cup of coffee refreshes your mood to a great extent and you get all geared up for the day. Some of us might also wish to end our day too with a great cup of coffee and for those people coffee makers are a boon. For those who love espressos, an espresso coffee maker can really help satisfying your espresso cravings. You can get the best cup of espresso from these espresso makers which can definitely refresh your mood.

No Special Skills Needed

Operating an espresso machine does not require any special skills. All you have to do is simply press a button or two and then watch the machine getting things done for you. Espresso machines are very useful for both households as well as office space. An espresso machine helps you brew a delicious cup of espresso within no time and almost no efforts and specialization is needed to operate it.

Stylish Look

Espresso machines are usually big in size and features a classy look. Whether you are using an espresso machine for household or commercial purpose, it will provide an upscale ambiance to your space. The elegant looks of the espresso maker will surely leave a good impression on your guests or clients.

Final Words

Espresso machines are extensively used by coffee lovers all over the world. Espresso machines are known for producing strong aroma espresso with rich taste and color. They also help you prepare espressos quickly and easily. So, if you have immense love for espressos and cannot start your day without it, then you must buy an espresso machine of your own.