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Snooth User: Philip James

Tasting with your nose

Posted by Philip James, Oct 2, 2007.

When you drink a wine and savor the fruits, spices and earthy notes, you'd be tempted to thank your tongue as a master instrument. It is, but its your nose thats doing a lot of the hard work here. Thats why we encourage you to swirl your wine before drinking - to release the aroma.

What your tongue does do is recognize 4 (or maybe 5) basic tastes: sweet at the front, salt and acidity on the sides and bitterness at the back. The 5th taste 'umami', which is recognized across the tongue, is a meaty/savoriness. Represented by the fullness that monosodium glutamate provides!

The positioning of these taste buds is why critics talk of an 'acidic attack ' - the acid detectors being nearer the front of the mouth - and, with the bitterness sensor at the back, a 'tannic finish '.

In addition, the tongue can detect hot/cold, oiliness, bubbles and a few other key elements of wine.

The rest of it - rose petals, kiwi, lychee, saddle leather, licorice, whatever - comes from your nose's olfactory senses (acting in concert with your tongue's basic detection).

This is simple to prove - try drinking wine while holding your nose, or just think back to when you last had a cold/hay fever. How acute was your sense of taste then?

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