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Opinion,Organic,Wine

Could Supertasters Be the Key to Knowing That Organic Wines Are Truly More Delicious?

Remember, the key to these wines is to enjoy them when they’re young. They don’t have added sulfites to give them a longer shelf life.

If you’re referred to as a supertaster, your palate probably answers, “Yes, organic wines have the potential to taste more delicious.” (At least mine does.)

Having a super palate doesn’t mean that you’ve passed any grandiose test; nor are you better than any other taster. It just means that you’re one of the people walking on this great big earth with more taste buds. Some of us are taller than others; some can touch their noses with their tongues, while others can roll their tongues…None of this is better; it’s just our differences that make for the diversity among us, and also makes for interesting debating points.

As I write this, I’m reflecting on my own palate, which I  know is ultra sensitive to flavors. My reflection is about some pistachios that I purchased recently. The very first one that I tasted, I realized that these pistachios had gone through some kind of a bleaching treatment. The taste of bleach was very hard to disguise for me, and yet others who tasted these nuts didn’t pick up on the chemical flavor at all, while it was an overriding one for me. I just can’t enjoy anything that has the flavor of chemicals in it…

Imagine a teaspoon of water; now add trace elements of a chemical pesticide, an herbicide, fungicide, and a chemical fertilizer. Is that water going to taste the same as fresh spring water?

Do you love the flavors that come from your tap these days, or are you filtering your water? And if you’re filtering it, why are you doing that? Perhaps for the same reason that supertasters will tell you that organic wine tastes better?

Now imagine a vine, getting all sorts of chemical treatments. The flavors of these “cides*” are what also goes into that living plant, which will bear wine grapes, never mind what it’s also going to be doing to the environment.  Can these grapes possibly taste as good as ones that are all natural? [*cide ~ a learned borrowing from Latin meaning “killer,” “act of killing,” used in the formation of compound words: pesticide, homicide, according to dictionary.com.]

This might begin to explain why some among us will argue in favor of organic, at every turn. What we pick up that others don’t will help all of mankind. Often, I’ve been referred to as the canary in the coal mine. I believe that all super palates have this ability, and are here to serve those who don’t have this palate with so many taste buds. We taste what others cannot, including chemicals, and some of us are willing to sound the alarm.

SUPERTASTER: A Matter of Taste: The Super Palate, By Rebecca A. Cooper on the The Harvard Crimson Website:

“Supertasters” are those who experience heightened sensations from food and beverages. They are extra sensitive to bitter tastes, textures, carbonation, and spice; tend to avoid foods such as spinach, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and strong coffee; and often abstain from bitter beers and bold wines. They often refrain from eating rich and fatty foods because they dislike the sensation that slick, creamy foods leave in the mouth. They find the bubbles in carbonated drinks especially irritating.

The term “supertaster” was coined in the early 1990s by Dr. Linda Bartoshuk, a Yale University professor who specializes in genetic variation in taste perception. The supertasters, she believed, had an anatomical and biological basis for their elevated taste response. Scientists have long known that different areas on the tongue map to different taste sensations. Bitter, sweet, salty, sour, and savory (umami) all have their place on the tongue, and some researchers are now arguing that calcium-sensitive sites merit their place, as well. It makes sense, then, that having more tastebuds corresponds to a greater gustatory response in supertasters.

From the Organic Center:

The more intense flavors in organic fruits and vegetables probably stem from two factors: somewhat higher average levels of antioxidants, and somewhat lower average crop yields…

Organic produce tends to store better and has longer shelf life, probably because of lower levels of nitrates and higher average levels of antioxidants. The former can accelerate food spoilage, while antioxidants help preserve

the integrity of cells and some are natural antibiotics.

Super taster test:

Supertasters experience taste with far greater intensity than the average person. About 25 percent of Americans are supertasters, a group with an unusually high number of taste buds. If you love food more than most, you may have inherited supertaster genes.

Do You Hate Vegetables?

Evidence suggests that supertasters are more sensitive to bitter tastes and fattiness in food, and often show lower acceptance of foods that are high in these taste qualities. Supertasters tend to dislike strong, bitter foods like raw broccoli, grapefruit juice, coffee and dark chocolate.

Love salt? You might be a ‘supertaster’

(Health.com) — If you love salty snacks and reach for the saltshaker like clockwork at every meal, you might think you have dull or underpowered taste buds that need a boost to get excited.

In fact, just the opposite may be true: A new study suggests that you may love salt because you’re a “supertaster” — a person who experiences tastes such as saltiness and bitterness more intensely than other people do.

“We’ve known for a long time that people don’t all live in the same taste world,” says the study’s lead author, John Hayes, Ph.D., an assistant professor of food science at the Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences, in University Park.

“There are supertasters and non-tasters,” Hayes adds. “Supertasters live in a neon taste world — everything is bright and vibrant. For non-tasters, everything is pastel. Nothing is ever really intense.

So, what do you think? Could we actually find organic foods ~ and wine is a liquid food, don’t forget ~ to be more delicious?

 

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3 Responses to “Could Supertasters Be the Key to Knowing That Organic Wines Are Truly More Delicious?”

  1. Jeff says:

    Great post! This is an important topic.
    I’m in the “yes, there are supertasters” camp. In my experience they tend to be more women than men with this ability. Having said that, I think that for anyone who has tasted an organic homegrown tomato vs. a hydroponically or industrial grown tomato, should be able to ‘taste’ that difference, regardless of having supertaster abilities or not. Which leads me to a greater curiosity that I have had over the years and that is, could it just be that as people have consumed more and more hyper-processed foods, we have just simply lost these sensory pleasures of what fresh food should taste like? Have you seen what kids eat at school? Our ‘tastes’ (ie preferences) are now these hyper processed versions instead of the original counterparts. Eggs from your large chain grocery stores sure taste a lot different than the eggs from the local farmers market. They look different too. Same for corn, same for carrots, same for many things…..but, how many people KNOW that?
    Wine is no exception. There is without a doubt a taste difference based on how a wine is made. In fact, I would say that wine more than any other product is the MOST sensitive to how the grapes are grown, how they are picked, how it is transported, how it goes through fermentation, how it goes into tank/barrel, how it is bottled/packaged, and how it is stored. There are so many variables. This is w/o even discussing vintage, region, vineyard, clonal selection, drainage, angle, elevation, soil composition, age of vine, trellising, etc….the only other products that come close to this complexity would be coffee beans and tea leaves….and man, you can really taste the difference with these beverages too.
    Maybe we just need to have a culture that values healthy food again?

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  3. Jo Diaz says:

    Jeff,

    Well done!

    I recently saw a documentary on a chemicals… A multi-billion dollar industry, which has never allowed anyone into its factory before, allowed a PBS interview to happen. In this plant, technicians (like biochemists) created synthetic flavors from chemicals, to mimic natural ones. Think of the implications for foods… Like blueberry, strawberry, banana flavored cereals for our kids, etc., instead of throwing in a handful of berried. (Oh, my, God.)

    Any packaged food that people consume has flavor chemicals in it… period (which is why I don’t store or eat these kids of foods).

    The interviewer even very coyly asked, “So, your adding flavors so that in essence, these foods are sort of addictive?” And the researcher, because he wasn’t savvy to being questioned from an outsider, answered, “Yes.” (I’ve got to go back and find the name of that film. It is a very important one. I’m betting that no one will answer that question that way ever again.)

    This company produces synthetic aromas for everything, for things like perfumes, aromas that we find in the malls (Cinnabuns), soaps, scratch n’sniff cards, on-and-on it goes. When we smell it, if it’s not coming from a fruit, vegetable, flower, or some other natural aroma, it’s being manufactured in this plant.

    People are like lemmings, in so many ways. And shame on us for being so mindless…

    Since we are what we eat, it would behoove us to take control of what we put into our bodies; because at the end of the day, we need to ask ourselves if our bodies actually processed what we put into it, or is it fighting the synthetics… And, how long can a natural organism do that before a mutation happens, like cancer. I truly believe that a partial cure for cancer is to stop with the chemicals… If it’s not natural, it’s not in your genetic makeup to have it processed by your body.

    Drop any synthetic chemical into a test tube with human tissue and watch it distort the human tissue. I can’t imagine it any other way.

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