Well-Balanced — A Quiz: Are you a taster, non-taster or super-taster?

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04 Dec Well-Balanced — A Quiz: Are you a taster, non-taster or super-taster?

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Yesterday I had the pleasure of speaking with Shari Darling, aka the Sophisticated Wino and author of Orgasmic Appetizers and Matching Wines. Darling, a sommelier and cookbook author, specializes in pairing food and wine. Over the course of coffee, I nibbled a Jamie Kennedy pain au chocolate and picked Darling’s brains.

You see, for a long time I’ve been confused about wine. While I generally prefer red wine over white, I can never predict whether I’ll like a wine or not based on its varietal. For example, I adore Pelee Island’s Baco Noir, but heartily disliked the Baco from another nearby vineyard. Why? Darling says it all comes down to the type of taster I am. Since I can pull flavours out of dishes with a fair amount of accuracy, I assumed I was a rare and to-be-lauded super-taster.

Turns out, once again, I am wrong. While Darling goes into greater detail in her book Harmony on the Palate, she gave me this quick quiz to determine where I fell in the tasting curve. Feel free to play along:

  1. If I make a pasta sauce would I make it with 1/2 a clove of garlic, 2 cloves or a whole head? (My answer is 2. Darling would have a dozen.)
  2. Did I like stilton or mozzeralla? (I don’t like stilton but mozzarella is boring on its own. Darling loves stinky blue cheese.)
  3. Do I like my coffee black or double-double*? (I like unsweetened lattes, she likes her coffee strong and black.)
  4. Does scotch taste sweet or bitter to me? (I like a sweet scotch like Glen Morangie. Darling is drawn to the smoky peaty ones.)

The verdict? Darling is a “non-taster” who can take strong flavours and enjoys sharp, bitter food. And me? I am not a super-taster. I am — average. Me and 50% of the population land smack dab in the middle. I am a taster. Plain and simple. This means I like my food and wine well-balanced. And, according to Darling, Pelee Island produces well-balanced wines. This doesn’t make their product better or worse than other wines, it just means it appeals to my palate.

Based on the quiz, I determined that, like Darling, my husband is a non-taster. This explains why he thinks Starbucks’ French roast is wimpy, adores stilton and can’t get enough of Lagavulin’s iodine essence. I’m beginning to suspect the family wimps, with their sickly sweet wines and no-pepper entres, are actually super-tasters. Hmmm….

So, I’m now curious. What palate are you?

* Double-double is a Canadianism for a coffee with double cream, double sugar.

Photos © star5112. Published under a Creative Commons License.

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  • Andrew
    Posted at 13:12h, 04 December Reply

    According to this test (thoughtfully completed for me!) I am a non taster. Hmmm. I think we need a better name.

    I wondered if I preferred strong sharp flavours because of my years of smoking and the damage that must have done to my taste buds, but after twenty-three smoke free years I guess not. What about sweetness? As you know I can take it or leave it. I prefer salty and sharp. All very interesting. I will test it with Ardbeg and roasted spicy nuts.

  • Andrew
    Posted at 13:12h, 04 December Reply

    According to this test (thoughtfully completed for me!) I am a non taster. Hmmm. I think we need a better name.

    I wondered if I preferred strong sharp flavours because of my years of smoking and the damage that must have done to my taste buds, but after twenty-three smoke free years I guess not. What about sweetness? As you know I can take it or leave it. I prefer salty and sharp. All very interesting. I will test it with Ardbeg and roasted spicy nuts.

  • Tom
    Posted at 13:28h, 04 December Reply

    It appears I am an non-taster as well, which makes me a bit sad. I do love strong blue cheese, I adore Lagavulin, and espresso is my favorite. Oh well, more bluefish for me!

  • cheryl
    Posted at 14:24h, 04 December Reply

    I’m somewhere between super taster and non-taster, I guess. I do love stinky cheese of all kinds, but I take my coffee (when I drink it, which is rare) with milk and sugar because I find it too strong/bitter otherwise.

  • cheryl
    Posted at 14:24h, 04 December Reply

    I’m somewhere between super taster and non-taster, I guess. I do love stinky cheese of all kinds, but I take my coffee (when I drink it, which is rare) with milk and sugar because I find it too strong/bitter otherwise.

  • DEBBIE
    Posted at 14:53h, 04 December Reply

    I guess I’m a non taster. I hate coffee, (it tastes like dirty dish water to me.) I love strong, sharp cheeses and espresso.

  • Christie's Corner
    Posted at 19:24h, 04 December Reply

    Yes Andrew, the name non-taster doesn’t sound good. It’s not a bad thing. It just is.

    Tom, don’t be sad. You and my husband would get along just fine. Think of it as having found a culinary soul mate.

    Cheryl, I’m sure you’re a flexible taster.

    Debbie, you can join Tom and Andrew. Cheryl and I will have some red wine and brownies.

  • Christie's Corner
    Posted at 19:24h, 04 December Reply

    Yes Andrew, the name non-taster doesn’t sound good. It’s not a bad thing. It just is.

    Tom, don’t be sad. You and my husband would get along just fine. Think of it as having found a culinary soul mate.

    Cheryl, I’m sure you’re a flexible taster.

    Debbie, you can join Tom and Andrew. Cheryl and I will have some red wine and brownies.

  • Sue
    Posted at 17:12h, 05 December Reply

    What do you do when the answer to question one is “ewww pasta sauce”?

    I cannot tolerate overly sweet things, so I don’t eat syrup or drink sweet wines. I even like bitter dark chocolate best.

    But I like my coffee on the weak side — my friends say I drink barely flavored hot water with a bit of cream. Just smelling Starbucks coffee makes my head hurt, it is so strong.

    Oh, cheese has to be strong and flavorful but not smelly.

    See, that’s the issue with me. Not the taste of things (except the sweet stuff) but the smell. Smell and taste are closely connected, but my sense of smell overpowers food.

  • Sue
    Posted at 17:12h, 05 December Reply

    What do you do when the answer to question one is “ewww pasta sauce”?

    I cannot tolerate overly sweet things, so I don’t eat syrup or drink sweet wines. I even like bitter dark chocolate best.

    But I like my coffee on the weak side — my friends say I drink barely flavored hot water with a bit of cream. Just smelling Starbucks coffee makes my head hurt, it is so strong.

    Oh, cheese has to be strong and flavorful but not smelly.

    See, that’s the issue with me. Not the taste of things (except the sweet stuff) but the smell. Smell and taste are closely connected, but my sense of smell overpowers food.

  • katie
    Posted at 21:09h, 06 December Reply

    Hmmm, I think I am average-non and hubs is super-average. He can taste distinct differences in a dish and always gaps at overpowering tastes or aromas. Whereas my philosophy is more is better! At least to a point…

  • katie
    Posted at 21:09h, 06 December Reply

    Hmmm, I think I am average-non and hubs is super-average. He can taste distinct differences in a dish and always gaps at overpowering tastes or aromas. Whereas my philosophy is more is better! At least to a point…

  • Christie's Corner
    Posted at 13:25h, 07 December Reply

    Sue, as you say, our sense of smell plays a huge role in what we taste. Not sure what it says about you that you don’t like pasta sauce or coffee but like strong cheeses. I will therefore create a new category, “mysterious tasters”. There are times when we all fall under this umbrella.

    Katie, be grateful you aren’t a full fledged non-taster married to a hyper-sensitive super-taster. The range in my extended family causes issues sometimes.

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