By now, most informed wine consumers have accepted the fact that sulfur isn’t the root cause of wine-derived headaches and instead place most of the blame on alcohol. Meanwhile, what has been identified as a source of adverse reactions to no- and low-sulfur red wines, particularly by histamine-sensitive consumers, are biogenic amines. What are they and why can they be a problem?
As a species, we’ve been eating and drinking to intentionally alter our states of perception ever since. For generations, the indigenous peoples of the Congo, Nigeria, and Ghana have used the fruit (and leaves) of Synsepalum dulcificum, a shrub indigenous to West
and Central Africa, in ethnomedicine. The taste-altering properties of this flavorless, bright-red berry—dubbed “the miracle fruit,” it’s about the size of a coffee bean—make for a fascinating sensory experience.
While perceptual learning plays an important role in evaluating wine, there’s another phenomenon related to perception that arises from the wine itself: perceptual interaction. When our olfactory system
is confronted with complex aromas, we often perceive them as a single aroma due to odor blending in a process known as
configural perception (our perception of the smell of coffee as a single aroma is just one of many examples).
After tasting the Piper-Heidsieck Hors-Série 1971 ($499), a rare, late disgorged Champagne that spent 49 years resting peacefully on its lees, I was inspired to delve deeper into the role yeast autolysis plays in the flavor development of sparkling wine.
Our sense of smell is based on two delivery pathways, orthonasal and retronasal; that makes it the only “dual sense modality” we possess, one that provides information about things both external and internal to the body.
Now the days of comparing a
glass of Northern Rhône Syrah to
a strip of peppered bacon appear
to be coming to an end.
What Argentina’s savvy winemakers have known for many decades—that certain vineyards reliably produce superlative wines despite vintage variations—is now scientific fact.
The sequence of 400 or so genes that control human olfaction is considered
by geneticists to be unusually diverse among animal species. Until recently,
researchers thought that any deviations resulting from that diversity led to a reduction in perception, but the results of a new sensory study have revealed otherwise.
Deborahparkerwong.com contributor Rex Ting-chia has translated The Multitasking Tongue for our Chinese language readers. You can find the pdf here –
In the United Kingdom, anosmia and ageuisa have been stronger predictors
of COVID-19 than fever. As of April 1 out of 400,000 people reporting one or
more symptoms on a mobile tracking app developed at King’s College London, 18% had lost their sense of smell or taste and 10.5% were experiencing fever.