Happy Tasting Tuesday! Now that we’ve gone through all those sniffs, we can finally take a sip.
A perfect sip will be just enough beer to fully coat every surface of your mouth but not so much that it is hard to swallow or so little that it’s hard to detect the taste.
Often, after we’ve taken that first sip, we begin to call what we’re sensing the beer’s (or whatever item you’re tasting’s) “flavor.”
Taste answers the big question: Should I spit it out or swallow? Since we can only perceive five (maybe six!) tastes our caveman brain says is it too rotten (sour) poison (bitter) no? Then swallow away! Even more so taste answers: does this provide have energy (sweet), electrolytes (salt), or protein (umami)? Then swallow many more bites!!
Aroma on the other hand senses much more specific answers – I know it is an energy-filled not-too-ripe grape, but what kind? Taste could only tell you, if it’s a little more bitter it’s probably a red variety if it’s a little more sour it’s probably a white variety but aroma tells a story of bright citrus vs dark berry. Scent answers the question, “Have I had this before? Is it something I like? Does it remind me of a specific place?”
All of this information comes from more than 400 genes in our DNA that exist specifically to help us sense aromas. Compared to the five tastes scientists believe we can discern about one TRILLION aromas.
We’re so used to filling out judges sheets with sections like “Appearance, Aroma, Flavor, Mouthfeel” but to make the most sense of what we’re tasting it’s important to think of these aspects building on each other and adding layers of context instead of being separate entities.