Frontier Psychiatrist

Frontier Oenology – Wine, Plastic Cups, and Chicken Dancing

Posted on: September 3, 2010

[Our Friday cocktail columnist is on a Secret Vacation. In his absence, enjoy this foray into Frontier Oenology]


Advanced Computational Enology predicts increased chicken dancing among those who choose plastic cups for wine at a beach party.


We hypothesize that certain wines consumed from a plastic cup in certain situations deliver more happiness than the same wine consumed from a standard tulip shaped glass.  Full bodied, heavy wines at room temperature were presented alongside slightly chilled aromatic red and white wines with low tannins to wine drinkers in both plastic and glass at a beach party.  85% of participants reported being happier when drinking the chilled, aromatic wines from the cup; 12% complained that our choice of vintage was poor and admitted to rarely being happy anywhere; 3% requested a protein infused vodka while attempting to grope Snooki.   These results demonstrate that oenological happiness is inexorably linked to an appreciation of one’s current situation regardless of stemware and that The Situation is an ass.


The study mimics the oft quoted (and misquoted) work of Al Czervik which proved the music of Hair Bands provokes more chicken dancing when played loudly on poor speakers outside than it does when reproduced in high fidelity in a sterile setting.   Known today as  “Czervik’s Law” the study was famously presented in documentary form in 1980:

Czervik’s Law uses transpositional logic.  In this case, the mathematical proof states:

Premise (1): If I turn up this Journey song loud enough at just the right moment, then I will perform my chicken dance because I am happy.

Premise (2): I am outside on a beautiful day and Journey (or any other cheesy band) is playing loud from my golf bag.

Conclusion: Therefore, prepare to gaze upon my chicken dance.

NB: A corollary to Czervik’s Law states that happiness is greatest when individuals relax and savor the moment regardless of the technical perfection of any one component of said moment. Mastery of this corollary is far greater indicator of happiness than any sort of technical mastery.

This law has never been formally applied to the enjoyment of wine until this study.  Our objectives and hypothesis are summarized by the following transpositional proof:

Premise (1): If I can enjoy well made if cheesy rock anthems played loudly from bad speakers in certain circumstances, then I possess the ability to recognize that well made, light bodied wines some might label “cheesy” can be quaffed without shame from a plastic cup at a beach party.

Premise (2): The Bohemian Rhapsody scene from Wayne’s World makes me miss blasting Bon Jovi in my friend’s beater in high school.

Conclusion: Therefore, pass me the Rosé, my plastic cup no longer runneth over.


Small servings of inexpensive, aromatic, and light bodied wines such as Gewürztraminer, Riesling, Gamay, Pinot Noir and Torrontés were poured next to full bodied Syrahs, Cabernet Sauvignons, Chardonnays and Merlots on a hot day at the beach in both plastic cups and wine glasses.  For their second serving, participants were allowed to choose both the wine and the vessel they preferred.   Participants were asked to record their preferences and impressions of each wine for as long as possible.   Along with stated preferences, total consumption was measured as well as participants desire to extend the study and build a bonfire.


A small minority of participants preferred heavy red wines and selected a wine glass for use all day.  They provided detailed tasting notes including commentary on the quality of the vintage and a lively debate on whether cassis or blackberry was the dominant fruit note.  This group consumed reasonable quantities, reported few if any sunburns and contributed this original poem:

The majority of the study’s participants selected the chilled, aromatic wines served in a plastic cup for their second serving.  Four participants had broken their wine glasses in the first ten minutes.  Scribbled comments included “tasty juice”, “Chilled wine is as good as cold beer” and “Dude, I didn’t know I like Riesling so much”.  This group reported more interesting conversations and an elevated desire to attend an after party.  Attempts to record further data were abandoned when Al Czervik himself emerged from the middle of the increasingly noisy group to make an announcement:


Discussion among researchers during the study centered on the fact that Caddyshack is a wonderful guide to living life in and for the moment and its message to “take yourself less seriously” summarizes our approach to wine perfectly.  Topics revisited include the researcher’s appreciation for the Bill Murray’s ad-libbed “Cinderella Man” scene and the group’s desire to be more like Ty Webb, including but not limited to envy of his ability to sing loves songs and putt.


  • Czervik’s Law, while widely accepted today, was revolutionary at the time.  Maxell’s 1978 study on extracting maximum pleasure from a cassette proved to be particularly difficult to contradict.
  • The Inspiration for Czervik's Law

  • Tulip shaped wine glasses do in fact amplify the aromas of wine.  The molecules we smell leave the surface of the wine and bounce off the curved edges, are focused into our brain, and are smelled with far greater intensity than they are from a cup. Tulip shaped glasses are to wine what great speakers are to music. They heighten the experience when available, but their absence does not predict unhappiness.

  • These how’s and why’s of wine tasting provide all the details you need.  Please note that we, the authors of this study, never recommend drinking from a wine “glass” made from plastic.
  • The Height of Misplaced Pretension

  • The term “aromatic wines” refers to grapes that make wines that smell more than others. Other wines, that is.
  • Journey’s original video for “Any Way You Want It” was watched repeatedly during this study.  Nice hair, dudes.
  • Damien Casten is the Director of Candid Wines’ Laboratory for Advanced Computational Enology in Chicago, IL. His last piece for Frontier Psychiatrist was “Five Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Buy Wine.”

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