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posted by martyb on Friday November 10, @05:20AM   Printer-friendly
from the How's-that-taste,-Bud? dept.

Drinking beer is for scientific research!

Most humans can be placed into three major categories of tasters—nontasters, tasters, and supertasters, roughly in the ratio of 25 percent: 50 percent: 25 percent. There is also a small percentage (less than 1 percent) of humanity categorized in a super-supertaster category. Supertasters are mostly women, and people of European ancestry are usually not supertasters. So what exactly is a supertaster? You might think that a supertaster would have a lot of fun eating and drinking, but it's more like the opposite. Because supertasters experience tastes more intensely than nontasters and tasters, the effects of different tastes detected by tongues of supertasters are amplified relative to the nontasters and tasters. Super-supertasters have it even worse than supertasters. Taste is a good case of "more is not better."

The best way to describe the differences between the categories of tasting is to take one of my favorite beverages to taste—beer—and explain how each of the categories of tasting will respond to this beverage. The Master Brewers Association of the Americas recommend what is called the American Society of Brewing Chemists flavor wheel to help its members assess the taste of their brews. The flavor wheel was created by a coauthor of Sensory Evaluation Techniques, first published in the 1970s and now in its fifth edition. Morten Meilgaard, a professor of the senses and how to measure them, created the taste wheel to lend a more quantitative aspect to beer tasting.

[...] What is an effective technique for examining how many papillae someone has in a given area of the tongue? All of them involve darkening it, and the most enjoyable is to swirl red wine in the mouth and over the tongue. If done correctly, you will be able to see little lumps of tissue on the tongue that are the papillae. Next, take a piece of three-hole notebook paper. The punched holes are about 6 or so millimeters in diameter, and a piece of paper torn off with one of these holes can be placed over the darkened tongue. Now simply count the number of papillae you see in the punched hole. If you have fewer than 4 papillae, you are more than likely a nontaster, whereas from 4 to 8 papillae would suggest that you are a taster. Anything over 8 would indicate that you are a supertaster or a super-supertaster.

So get out there and help them with their research.


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  • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 10, @06:27AM (1 child)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 10, @06:27AM (#595053)
    But smell is part of "tasting" stuff too. That's how we detect much of the flavor.

    Do super tasters also have a super sense of smell?

    Or they taste the bitterness of chocolate more while experiencing the same levels of flavor from the smell senses.

    Is it possible for super tasters to get used to the high levels?
    • (Score: 3, Interesting) by bradley13 on Friday November 10, @08:25AM

      by bradley13 (3053) Subscriber Badge on Friday November 10, @08:25AM (#595062) Homepage Journal

      Exactly my question. The tongue doesn't detect many different flavours, so this is pretty irrelevant. It's your sense of smell that does most of the work. TFA is very superficial; I have the feeling the author doesn't even know this. About the only things in beer that you will pick up on your tongue are the bitterness from the hops, and sweetness from residual sugars. Everything else on that tasting wheel will be picked up by your sense of smell.

      --
      Everyone is somebody else's weirdo.
  • (Score: 1, Funny) by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 10, @08:23AM (1 child)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 10, @08:23AM (#595061)

    This is suggesting that some people are more capable than other people with regard to something.

    This is tongueist.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 10, @08:37AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 10, @08:37AM (#595065)

      *lick*

  • (Score: 1, Offtopic) by FatPhil on Friday November 10, @09:12AM (1 child)

    by FatPhil (863) <pc-soylentNO@SPAMasdf.fi> on Friday November 10, @09:12AM (#595074) Homepage
    There's nothing "wheel"-like about it, no linear ordering, no continuity. It's an unordered list of unordered lists, that's all.

    But, what would I know, it's not as if I pay attention to beer tastes several times every day? https://www.ratebeer.com/user/51287/
    Oh - and buy this, I get a tiny slice of the royalties when you do: http://beertoday.co.uk/new-pocket-beer-book-1117/
    --
    I was worried about my command. I was the scientist of the Holy Ghost.
    • (Score: 1, Offtopic) by Nerdfest on Friday November 10, @01:48PM

      by Nerdfest (80) Subscriber Badge on Friday November 10, @01:48PM (#595111)

      The wheel is just a handy portable form to make it easy to use. It's more of a classification hierarchy.

  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by inertnet on Friday November 10, @10:16AM (6 children)

    by inertnet (4071) on Friday November 10, @10:16AM (#595083)

    My wife is one of them. And indeed she's not male and not from European ancestry. She will avoid any strong taste, can tell differences that others can't. She throws out the pickles from hamburgers because their taste is too strong. Luckily for me this also makes her an exceptionally good cook.

    • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 10, @12:49PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 10, @12:49PM (#595101)

      Does she... spit or swallow?

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 10, @01:03PM (4 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 10, @01:03PM (#595103)

      She throws out the pickles from hamburgers because their taste is too strong.

      Super-tasting is a high sensitivity to all flavors so having it would make her a terrible cook that makes some very bland dishes.

      Besides, I similarly hate the pickles served in fast food chains for being too salty or too metallic tasting and, beside being white male from European descent, I enjoy some very spicy food that my mother - who likes salty pickles - hates.

      • (Score: 2) by inertnet on Friday November 10, @01:40PM (3 children)

        by inertnet (4071) on Friday November 10, @01:40PM (#595109)

        You're wrong about that, she was a professional chef for a number of years before we met. Because of that and her refined taste, she can tell which flavors will go well together and which won't. And she's always right too.

        • (Score: 2, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 10, @03:18PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 10, @03:18PM (#595145)

          And she's always right too.

          I hear that's true for many wives and gfs even if they aren't super-tasters.

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 10, @03:23PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 10, @03:23PM (#595148)

          Is she an extrovert?

          I believe that introverts tend to experience all sensations at a heightened level when compared to extroverts. Thus, for an extrovert, having a heightened sense of taste might have them experience the taste with a similar cognitive load as a normal-tasting introvert, while being better able to identify and distinguish the individual flavors.

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 10, @07:38PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 10, @07:38PM (#595294)

          And she's always right too.

          I say the same thing to my wife, but this is a safe place.

  • (Score: 2) by shortscreen on Friday November 10, @08:25PM

    by shortscreen (2252) Subscriber Badge on Friday November 10, @08:25PM (#595326) Journal

    supertasters = children?

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