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Friday, May 11, 2007

Bitterness more palatable later in life

A Sonoma State University and a Master of Wine have teamed up to determine why people taste things differently.

Liz Thach, a professor in Sonoma State’s Wine Business Program, says there are four components of wine preferences — Taste Bud Quotient, Metabolic State, Psychological Conditioning and Concurrent Sensations. Hatch and her associate, Tim Hanni, divide palates into three basic groups: the “Hypo Taster,” who has fewer tastebuds and has a higher tolerance for tannins and bitterness; the “Hyper Taster,” who has more tastebuds and is highly sensitive to tannins and bitterness; and the “Median Taster,” who is moderately sensitive and is usually open to a broad range of wines.

Taste buds alone don't determine wine preference, they said. Other elements -- attitude, ambiance, metabolic state and psychological factors among them -- affect how flavor is perceived, and help account for why the same wine may taste different at separate tastings.

People’s sensitivity to bitterness changes, but that change isn’t noticeable until a drinker's 60s or 70s, Hanni said. The people with the most sensitive palates are white zinfandel drinkers, he added.
M. Zane Grey, 10:37 AM