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wine tasting

super tasters & non tasters

Research from Yale University released in 2004, documents the varying ability of people to taste.
It's apparently all based on the number of taste buds one is born with.

Super tasters are the 25% of the populace who have the most taste buds.

Average tasters are the middle 50%, and so-called

non tasters are the 25% with the fewest tastebuds.

This research was carried out with the aid of a strongly bitter chemical.

If someone couldn't taste that, they're called a non taster.

Everybody else is further up the scale.

A supertaster is a person who experiences taste with far greater intensity than average. Women are more likely to be supertasters, as are Asians and Africans. Among individuals of European descent, it is estimated that about 25% of the population are supertasters. The cause of this heightened response is currently unknown, although it is thought to be, at least in part, due to an increased number of fungiform papillae (tastebuds).[1]

The evolutionary advantage to supertasting is unclear. In some environments, heightened taste response, particularly to bitterness, would represent an important advantage in avoiding potentially toxic plant alkaloids. However, in other environments, increased response to bitter may have limited the range of palatable foods.

In our modern, energy-rich environment, supertasting may be cardioprotective, due to decreased liking and intake of fat, but may increase cancer risk via decreased vegetable intake. It may be a cause of picky eating, but picky eaters are not necessarily supertasters, and vice versa.

The term originates with experimental psychologist Dr. Linda Bartoshuk who has spent much of her career studying genetic variation in taste. In the early 1990s, Bartoshuk and her colleagues noticed some individuals tested in the laboratory seemed to have an elevated taste response and took to calling them supertasters.[2]
This increased taste response is not the result of response bias or a scaling artifact, but appears to have an anatomical/biological basis. ~ courtesy Wikipedia

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We have no idea where we are ourselves, except that we're generally recognized by wine professionals
as having a good palette and indeed consult for a large local wine retailer .However
after all the years of self-congratulation we find it might merely be an accident of birth!

Nevertheless whatever equipment we're born with discernment and discrimination can be learned.
As can awareness of the tasting properties pleasant and objectionable of wine and food.

So eat hearty and drink up for your health! Salut!


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[1] # ^ Bartoshuk, L. M., V. B. Duffy, et al. (1994). "PTC/PROP tasting: anatomy, psychophysics, and sex effects." 1994. Physiol Behav 56(6): 1165-71.
[2] # ^ Bartoshuk, L. M. (1991). "Sweetness: History, Preference, and Genetic Variability." Food Technol. 45(11): 108,110, 112-113.