Wine Experts' Palates 'More Sensitive than Others', Study Finds
Results suggest expert opinions may be irrelevant to consumers
March 6, 2012 — A new study found that wine experts might be more sensitive to taste than average wine consumers, according to Penn State Live.
According to John Hayes, director of Penn State University’s sensory evaluation center, an average wine consumer’s biological inability to pick up on the subtleties tasting experts can easily identify might make expert recommendations irrelevant to the masses.
In the study, both wine experts and non-experts tasted an odorless chemical called propylthiouracil, used to measure one’s reaction to bitterness. Researchers found that wine experts were much more likely to identify the chemical as bitter than the non-experts. Hayes said this difference in tasting ability could be attributed to biological factors.
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So what do the consumers do now? Do we try more wines to refine our palates ? Leading to the question, can palates be refine? If not, we should just stick to the simple wines that we enjoy and are not expensive. Why get the expensive complex bottles when you cannot taste the complexity? So what happens to the expensive stuff? Reserved for only wine experts or people who think they are or those who are willing to spend or a combination of those?
Well first we have to question the science. How valid and is it reproducible? If it is, then likely it speaks reality. But if not, us consumers have a chance of experiencing the complexity of wines. Maybe. Depending on our biological attributes of how good our palate is. Then I wonder how food comes into play with those who eat a variety of food. What about asian spiciness which is said to kill the palate as a kind of pain? Do people who go through that have no chance of recovery?
Guess I will never appreciate 2009 Chatau Latour like Robert Parker.
In 1931, Synder L. H published his work in Science to confirm a previous study that certain persons apparently have no ability to taste para-ethoxy-phenyl-thio-urea (PROP)-bitterness and it is genetic due to a single recessive genes. The proportion of so called 'super tasters' to those with taste deficiency is roughly 70-30 according to his study. If anyone is interested in the paper, you can find it on Science, or just shoot me an email.
Also there are plenty of other scientific papers that are trying to see what it means for the people with the recessive genes and without. Apparently, people without the recessive gene are better able to taste sweetness and alcohol as well. Although those studies have not been verified yet.
SO the reaction.
Obviously some wine enthusiasts were not happy about their palate being predetermined by some recessive gene. BUT, do not fear, it does not mean you cannot have a good palate. It just means you have to work harder to get it or something along that line. Well, time to drink up!
Meanwhile, I am getting a PROP taster kit to do a little test. Cross my fingers!