Your Take 

Your take: Does a high price make you think it’s better?

Do people love Dom Perignon because it tastes good, or because they think higher price, better quality?The other day I was shopping for some new earbuds online and I saw a Panasonic pair with 4 1/2 stars and tons of glowing reviews. I haven’t bought Panasonic anything in years, and the price was only $7, so I ignored the good reviews and looked elsewhere, finally settling on a well-reviewed but slightly more expensive pair from Sennheiser.

The pair I ended up with were ok, but I haven’t been blown away, so imagine my chagrin when I saw a very similar Panasonic pair win in a showdown of 40 different pairs of earbuds, many costing substantially more.
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 Frugal Living 

Beware Wine Expert Ratings & Rankings

Glass of WineSince we’ve been doing a lot of “cooking as entertainment,” my wife and I have started drinking a bit of wine to help make cooking more entertaining. 🙂

Always price conscious, we set out to buy wines that we enjoyed but didn’t bust the bank. As twenty-somethings, we really don’t need our palates reaching beyond our pocketbooks, if I may be so bold in my use of alliteration. Fortunately, our tastes are plenty satisfied with bottles that cost only in the “teens” (or less, as is the case with many Rieslings). For some of our wine-buying tips, I invite you to read an earlier post title How to Save Money on Wine.

So I wasn’t surprised to read a WSJ article that basically called wine critics full of crap. Actually, full of crap is probably a little harsh, but the point of the article was that wine critics are inconsistent, to the point of being random, and that wine ratings is big business.

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 Your Take 

Your Take: What’s Your Favorite Frugal Weekend Idea?

Last year, I had a whole series on frugal weekend ideas like visiting local wineries, going to a major league baseball game, visit a national park, or something simple like borrow a movie from the library.

My favorite frugal weekend idea is probably to visit a local winery, such as when we visited Boordy (which ended up not being frugal!) a few weeks ago, because it has all the key characteristics in a great weekend day. First, I like being outdoors and most wineries have outdoor seating and relaxing areas. Second, I enjoy the gift of Dionysus and I enjoy enjoying it over several hours basking in the warm sun. Third, it’s a very social activity that has something for everyone. If you enjoy wine, you have wine. If you don’t have wine, you enjoy the setting. If you hate being outdoors and wine, well we’re probably not friends (and you’re probably a vampire). 🙂

I’d like to know, what’s your favorite frugal weekend idea?

(Photo: tambako


How To Save Money Buying Wine

Two weekends ago, my wife and I took advantage of the warmer temperatures and a break in the clouds to visit a local Maryland winery, Boordy Vineyards. They’re about a forty five minute drive away just north of the Baltimore Beltway and we were looking forward to their March weekend event, “Stew in your Juices,” which was a medley of music, stews, and wine sampling. Each year there’s a “Wine in the Woods” event about a mile down the road and each year we walk out with a case of their wines so we though we’d go to them for a change.

As we were drinking wine and chatting, our minds got onto the topic of how easily one could enjoy wine without spending a bundle. These were some of the ideas we came up with:

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 Personal Finance 

Can Money Buy Happiness?

For those of you who follow me on Twitter, you probably saw me mention earlier this week that I could lose days watching all the great videos on That’s where I found the informative and entertaining video about Chinese American food and where I found this talk by Benjamin Wallace, a writer for plenty of entertaining magazines like GQ, Details, Food & Wine, etc. and recently published a book titled The Billionaire’s Vinegar: The Mystery of the World’s Most Expensive Bottle of Wine.

The video is that of Wallace talking about how he decided he’d seek out and try all the world’s most expensive things, from Kobe beef to ridiculously expensive golf clubs, from fancy olive oil to a $65,000 bed, and even the Veyron 16.4 ($1.5 million). Well worth the fifteen minutes. 🙂

Expensive doesn’t always mean better.

What are you thoughts on this?


6 Things More Expensive Because of Marketing

Black Pearl EarringsOne of the most fascinating stories I read in Predictably Irrational, by Dan Ariely, was that of Tahitian Black Pearls. It’s amazing because what happened with black pearls has happened with so many other products through the ages, you’d think we’d learn to recognize it… but we don’t! While I won’t reveal the whole tale, Emily Bobrow’s review, which appeared in the New York Observer, remarked that in Predictably Irrational…

We learn that James Assael, a postwar ‘pearl king,’ had little luck in unloading the gunmetal fruits of black-lipped oysters when he first introduced them to America in the 1970’s. But then he convinced his buddy Harry Winston to display a string of these lovelies in his Fifth Avenue window, together with an outrageous price tag. The rest is history.

For those who don’t know, black pearls are supposed to be very expensive. 🙂

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How To Buy Wine

In college I was in a fraternity, which meant I was a connoisseur of cheap beer. (To this day, if I open a cooler and see Natty Light, which doesn’t happen very often, I’ll crack open one of those first) Nowadays, I’ve been drinking some more wine and enjoying the high life (no, not the champagne of beers, Miller High Life), and often find myself wondering which wines I would enjoy.

Enter Gary Vaynerchuk of Wine Library TV. First, the man is energetic and passionate about wine in a way that I’ve never seen anyone be about wine. Second, he is a New York Jets fan, which means he can be trusted and won’t BS you. Third, he is honest (in episode 441, he destroys the Chardonnay right out the gate). Finally, his videos are entertaining as hell to watch even if you have only a passing interest in wine.

This little video clip comes from Life Videopedia, and is a three minute “tutorial” on how to buy wine. I think you’ll be surprised by what he says and I think you’ll be interested to watch more of his videos (he’s almost at 500!) after this one.

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