Hyposmia ~ How’s Your Palate As You Age?

Probably not too many people in this lifetime want to admit that their palates are on the wane. No awards are given for fessing up, and it will definitely work in one’s disfavor, but I’ve always been one for telling it like it is, not like it isn’t… I just didn’t know there was a name for this life changing phenomenon.

I’ve got to thank Dan Berger for bringing it up years ago in his 02/21/08 Vintage Experiences Commentary. I’ve been thinking about this. I even talked to a colleague about it, and he told me to just let it go because I have wisdom to offer… Yeah, right… but it’s just not the same.

I’m always ready to reinvent myself. As one part of me is left behind, I discover another. It’s in the not letting go of the old room that doesn’t allow for one to discover what’s in the new one.

So, let’s discuss… What’s Hyposmia, anyway?

hy·pos·mi·a (n.) A diminished or deficient sense of smell.

The good news for me is that I was born with a hypersensitive sense of smell, so I probably still have a better than “average” ability now. None-the-less, having my sense of smell diminish a bit causes me to wonder what happens to people who are born with an average sense of smell.

Like Alice, I’m off into a new room, exploring new things, and not letting one thing that slips ever-so-slowly away become a negative… It’s just an opportunity for new things to come my way. For instance, I can go photograph a wine competition and bring back wonderful images, versus having to be the one where after a flight of wine, I’ve just lost it but must trudge on. (This image was taken at the Riverside Wine Competition in May 2007, thanks to the generosity of Dan Berger and Juliann Savage.)

I have something for my eyes (glasses), and even if someone invests something for my nose, I’m happy to smell a bit less… versus extending the length of my nose and its capabilities. Enough already!

It’s not the changes that happen in our lives that matter. It’s how we handle the changes that counts!

For Dan’s issue, please contact him thorough his Web site for his full story. It’s very enlightening, and he’s brave enough to put it out there. I’m just following his lead. I can’t call it an “opinion” because it’s got a medical name: Hyposmia.

This perhaps might explain to me, however, how Robert Parker can give (for instance) a 2004 Black Coyote Stags Leap Cabernet Sauvignon a score of 91, and write the following:

  • This deep ruby/purple-colored wine, made at the Judd’s Hill Winery and bottled by Robert Pecota winery, is outstanding. A beautiful, rich wine, it exhibits notes of black currant, licorice, underbrush, and subtle background oak. Medium to full-bodied, still very young and primary but very promising as well, this wine should age nicely for 12-15 years.

Then, another wine critic writes the following, with a score of 84:

  • Wholly absent of the polish and finesse that we associate with Stags Leap Cabernets, this brawny but soft-centered wine is singularly defined by ripeness, and its ongoing toughness and undisguised heat stand out for lack of buffering fruit.

Same bottle, two opinions. Having tasted the wine more than once, I’m running with the Parker review… regardless of my palate losing a bit of its luster, I know it’s as Parker tasted it.

And, thanks to Lewis Carroll for these wonderful images. Where would we all be in life without a little Alice in Wonderland!


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3 Responses to “Hyposmia ~ How’s Your Palate As You Age?”

  1. Zulueta says:

    Great post. Another word for learning, Hyposmia. Hyposmia is caused by allergies, viral infection, head trauma and nasal polyps.

    Nevertheless, I do agree with you on saying that ” It’s not the changes that happen in our lives that matter. It’s how we handle the changes that counts!”.

  2. Tina C. says:

    I’m one of those people who suffer from hyposmia following a bad cold. It’s about as terrible as one can imagine.

    Articles on the subject suggest that it’s not on the scale of losing other senses, but at this point, I’d greedily take deafness if it meant getting my full sense of smell back. It’s that depressing.

    Imagine not being able to smell wine. You hold a glass to your nose and smell nothing but blank air. You tilt the glass slowly to your mouth, take a sip, and all you detect are bitter, sweet, salty and sour notes.

    Ingesting food and wine are now chores to me…things to do out of necessity, not to be enjoyed or savored. And it’s not something that can be ignored…it requires addressing every time the stomach growls…about three times a day.

    There is no cure. The virus partially destroyed the olfactory nerves high up in my nose. They may regenerate, but I know from exhaustive online research and consultations with taste & smell specialists that even if I do regain some function –which could take years– it won’t ever again be 100%.

    The only good side to this for me is that I have hyposmia –a reduced sense of smell– and not anosmia: a total lack of smell. I can still smell the additive added to natural gas, an important consideration if you have a gas stove and don’t want to die in your sleep. I can still smell the mint leaves growing in my herb garden. Stronger spices, like cumin and curry, can be detected, even though the more subtle nutmeg, bay leaf and most mild cheeses like mozzarella cannot. So, in that sense, I’m one of the lucky ones.

    But, trust me, I don’t feel lucky.

  3. Jo Diaz says:

    I her you, Tina…

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