Ever wondered how sommeliers or winemakers can pick up a glass of wine and instantly rattle off three or four smells or flavours? Without even tasting it??
They’re not making it up (at least most of the time) – lots of practice and a fair whack of skill.
But some people seem to have an innate ability to taste various flavours without the years of practice. (Often these people are women, but that’s another story)
Follow our handy checklist to see if you might be one of these talented tasters.
1. You Perceive Different Characters From Smell to Taste
So you pick up a wine glass and you smell ‘peach’. But then you taste it and all you get is ‘lemon’. Something wrong? Not at all! There are hundreds, if not thousands, of different flavour compounds in any given glass of wine.
When you first start honing in on flavours, it can be a challenge to differentiate them, but sometimes you just ‘get’ them. This is the first sign that you might be on to something – look for the difference!
2. Accurate Palate Memory
Another key factor to tasting wine accurately is the ability to catalogue flavours and recall them immediately. This is known as a palate memory. All of us have this to some degree – ever eaten something an instantly been transported back to a childhod memory? – but some of us are just GOOD at it.
You know exactly what guava, mango and melon smell like, and you can pick between them.
3. You Hate Bitter Things – the ‘supertaster test’
Science diferrentiates us all into 3 categories when it comes to taste
- Non-taster 1 in 4 people
- Average Taster 1 in 2 people
- Super Taster 1 in 4 people
The labels are a little misleading, but basically category 1 people find it challenging to identify flavours, category 2 people find it relatively easy and category 3 people are highly sensitive to flavours.
Most intense are the bitter flavours for these ‘supertasters’, so if you dislike grapefruit juice, black coffee and dark chocolate, you might be one of these special superhumans, naturally equipped with a super palate! (nb – bad luck though, you miss out on all the chocolate)
4. You Enjoy Eating a Wide Range of Things – sweet, dry, rich, lean
Even if you’re not a ‘supertaster’, you can still be endowed with a prodigious palate. Some people (well-rounded individuals) have a well-balanced palate that picks up various flavours evenly.
So if you enjoy eating cheese as much as chocolate, or can’t decide between a milkshake and a lemonade, you just might be on track to be a brilliant wine taster!
5. You Experience Synaesthesia
What’s that you say? Syn-a-what? Synaesthesia is ‘a perceptual phenomenon in which stimulation of one sensory or cognitive pathway leads to automatic, involuntary experiences in a second sensory or cognitive pathway.’
Translation – you can taste colours.
It’s actually a helpful tool when trying to look for flavours in a wine anyway – smell the glass and think ‘is this more green or yellow’ – and see where that takes you.
Take our fun palate profile quiz here and we’ll recommend three bottles that we think you'll love according to your results!