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Saturday, 29 March 2014

Changing tastes and developing my palate


Hello World, its been a while. I'm not even going to apologise for my absence but the truth is that I do sometimes fall in and out of love with blogging. My motto is usually if you haven't got anything to say do not bother saying anything, so that's kinda why the blog has been a bit silent lately.

Anyway....... I have got something to say today, so here it goes.

Taste, flavour and aroma have always played a large part in my life. Some people are very visually driven, others like to touch the products they are dealing with, but for me it has always been taste that pleases me the most. This got me thinking recently about how tastes change and how my own have developed over the years. We often think about children and young adults as being picky and driven by sweet flavours. A survey by the University of Copenhagen in 2008 found that it is not quite as simple as that. They concluded by saying that adult palates simply need more stimulation than children's do.

Recently I have also bought two books/kits which tie in with my current fascination with taste and my own palate. Firstly I purchased something which I have had my eye on since my days wandering through the vineyards of the Rhone Valley, Le Nez Du Vin (N.b You can get this product much cheaper by sourcing through the usual tax avoiding website with the name of a South American river, but I wouldn't want to link to them). Le Nez are a series of aroma kits compiled by renowned French wine buff Jean Lenoir. The idea is that you are provided with little glass bottles of liquid which you can use to hone your nose and ability to pick out flavours. Le Nez are currently selling wine, whisky and coffee kits but I would argue that many of the flavour compounds are going to be pretty universal, pineapple in an IPA and in a glass of Gewürztraminer are still pineapple. I am still at the early stages with my aroma kit and haven't got through all the guides that come with it but already I find it easier to pick out certain flavours I couldn't get a grasp on before by using the kit.

© Editions Jean Lenoir

Secondly I spied a book in a local book shop by Niki Segnit called The Flavour Thesaurus ™ (a phrase which she has rather craftily trademarked). Whilst veering away from beery themes slightly more than Le Nez does, she explores flavour combinations in food, giving a subjective view of what works and why and what to avoid and why. It is also packed full of recipes which contain ingredients people, certainly I, would never have combined before. I'm making a West African Mafé (Maafe) on Tuesday, I'll post on Twitter how it goes. 

Both of these books made me remember how excited I get by flavour and aroma. They also make me realise how varied but at the same time narrow my palate can sometimes be. I'm happy with a nice rich malty beer with loads of chocolate, dates and plum and I am also happy with a glass of Campari and Soda (I know, I know). My palate has definitely changed over the years, just four or five years ago the idea of drinking a full bodied red wine over 14% would have had me screaming for a bottle of IPA, whereas now my palate has tuned into the flavours that the big boozy wine gives. It's proof that you really can train a palate if you try hard enough.

And that my friends is the reason we should never give up when we hear that dreaded phrase......

'I just don't like beer' 

They just haven't trained their palate to appreciate good beer yet!

I won't leave it so long before the next post, promise!!

3 comments:

  1. Love the flavour thesaurus. Those aroma kits sound interesting but perhaps a bit extravagant! You coming to conference this yr?

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