I just got back from a work-related departmental retreat. This is where everyone in my department at work cruises out of town to some cute scenic getaway place and spends a day and a half or so bonding and updating each other on what we've been working on. Typically it involves lots of science and some booze and some nature.
This year our department went to Port Townsend, a touristy town across the way by ferry. We went to a old haunted military base and stayed in soldier's barracks (the faculty got to stay in the fancier lieutenant's houses). It was very pretty and a lot of fun especially now that I've gotten to know people.
A lot of the faculty in my department fancy themselves as experienced wine drinkers. One faculty member is even part-owner of a wine shop in a fancy party of town (Capital Hill). Therefore it didn't surprise me one bit when some fancy wine got brought out at the end of the day. What did surprise me was that they figured out a way for us to actually drink for science.
The hypothesis that was tested was that expensive wine will taste better. Therefore we had a 'wine tasting' where we blindly drank wine and rated it based on taste and smell. We also guessed at the grape and the region (all the wine was from the state of Washington, amazingly). After we drank heavily and handed over our ratings sheets (splattered with wine and some only half-filled out) the results were tallied and it turns out:
price corresponded slightly with preference, if one outlier was removed (the most expensive bottle at $42, which everyone hated but I loved). Interesting!
What I thought was fun was that we were drinking for a purpose, something I've never really done before. In order to help out, all sorts of people joined in the wine-tasting, everyone got drunk, and we all finished out the night sprawled on the floor as equals.
And I never saw the ghost. Although, I have to admit, I got a little freaked out a couple times.
Note: the picture is artwork available at the Chateau Ste Michelle, a local winery.