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Learn to Taste

If you wonder why some people taste all types of things that you don’t taste, it could be that you need to learn to taste.

What? Why Do I Need to Learn How to Taste Something?

Bear with me, for a moment on this. I’ll start over. Unless you have something wrong with your sense of taste, you can actually taste things. I’m not suggesting that you don’t.

But let’s just admit there are what are called “non tasters” and “super tasters.” “Non tasters” are the people who don’t seem to find much flavor in things. “Ssuper tasters” are those people are especially sensitive to flavors. Let’s leave those people out of this discussion. This post is for the rest of us, who are just average tasters.

Even within this category of being merely average tasters with average taste buds, there are two things to keep in-mind:

  1. We’re all individuals with slightly different experiences with food and slightly different taste buds. We don’t all necessarily taste things in exactly the same way.
  2. Experience with foods can change the way we taste it.

More Discussion on Our Individualness

Do you know a person who hates cilantro? Or, are you the person who hates cilantro among a sea of people who love it? In addition, do you feel so strongly about cilantro that you absolutely can’t understand why someone would feel differently about it than you do? Or, possibly it’s something else, such as vanilla or licorice where you have these strong feelings.

With regard to cilantro, a like or dislike can be genetic. There are studies showing that our genetic makeup affects how we react to the aroma and flavors of cilantro. These studies suggest that genetics influence whether we think it smells and tastes like soap (yuk!) or an herbal treat (yum!).

With that said, we’re still human beings and individuals. Thus, some people just like it because that’s their personal preference.

More Discussion on Experience

As a child, I hated nuts, coconut, and anything else with any interesting properties. I loved the cheapest and crummiest of candy. As an adult, though, I love nuts and also coconut and prefer the finer brands among candies.

There are probably many explanations for this. However, some of this comes from having eaten so much of some of these things that I’ve started picking up on the variety of nuances in these flavors.

Let’s consider another example: people become sommeliers of wine, coffee, tea, beer, and a wide variety of beverages. They might have a predisposition to want to do this and to be able to do this but the fact is that they just keep practicing. For example, a wine sommelier doesn’t just apply for that job, read and memorize a bunch of wine descriptions, and now becomes the expert. They become the expert over time by trying out different wines from different regions from different years in different glasses and etc…

You Can Also Learn to Taste

You can do exactly the same thing. Personally, I’ve been to such a multitude of tastings in lifetime that I’ve lost track of what I’ve tasted.

To name a few, I’ve been to countless wine tastings, beer tastings, tastings of spirits, chocolate, other food items, took the Pepsi challenge, you name it – I’ve possibly tasted it.

I’ve become so proficient at being a “taster” that I’ve created tastings for wine clubs and other such events. At home, my spouse and I sometimes set up our own “tastings.”

“Tasting” Isn’t “Liking”

People who want to learn to taste something or another are trying to understand the variances in the flavors among some subcategory of consumable. Sometimes, we do this so we’ll know what we like. We do this to determine what brand or style of something we prefer. But that doesn’t have to be the case. We sometimes do this because we want to build our expertise in something.

For example, I’ll try any smoked beer or beer with hot peppers in it, even though I was convinced I’d never find one I liked. I just wanted to pick up on the fine points of them and be something of an expert on them. For many years, what I tasted were probably too many trial-and-error examples that tasted like liquid smoke or merely heat with nothing behind it.

After many years of this, and I think it’s because the brewers matured in their recipes, but I found beers that had what seemed to be a natural and pleasant smokiness. I found beers that didn’t taste of the heat of the hot peppers as much as their subtle flavors.

I did this for no better reason than sheer curiosity. It’s one of my hobbies.

Yes, You Really Can

Sometimes, people will state that they can’t taste any of the flavors anyone else can taste from the published list of flavors that come with items. Wines are the most common example of something where you can typically find a list of flavors you’re “supposed” to taste.

Let’s go back a moment, too. There’s a different between the flavors that are “typical” for, say, a particular grape or region and the flavors of a specific brand/blend/year of wine. This is true for anything, including but not limited to coffee or tea.

In addition, you don’t wake up, buy something, pick up tasting notes, and suddenly you’re able to just taste everything. It might happen to the occasional person but, for most of us, it’s like learning to play a sport or a musical instrument – it takes practice. It’s the repetition of it where we eventually start to get the hang of it.

But Sometimes It Just Doesn’t Happen

My spouse can identify different types of salt. Seriously. We’ve tried experimenting with learning to taste various types of salt. And, while I can separate a few of the most obvious ones, despite repetition, can’t seem to pick up on the differences in order to do better than that.

It’s possible it’s because I don’t have the interest in learning about salt the way I have other food items. Or, possibly there’s something else that hinders me. Since I’ll admit to a certain lack of interest, I suspect I’ll not become proficient, for whatever reason.

Learn to Taste, If You Want To

I don’t want to suggest that we can’t enjoy our food or drink merely for the pleasure it might bring to us. There’s a fine line between learning to understand how to taste beverages or foods in order to build an expertise in them and to enjoy them at a different level, and to end up spending so much time over-analyzing everything that it loses its enjoyment.

So, let’s keep enjoying it. If you enjoy the cheapest and crummiest brand of something, whether it’s tea, wine, chocolate or anything else, just enjoy it. Don’t let the snobs of the world rain on your treat.

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