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Why Does Everyone Have Different Tastes?

In 3 logical points, let's explain why the same wine tastes different to each person and why it's possible to taste water.

After reading this article, you'll understand why water has its own taste and why people have varying tastes, as you'll grasp the factors that shape our individual preferences. Additionally, there's a completely logical explanation for why someone might detect flavors in a wine that you can't quite comprehend, and vice versa.

Armed with this knowledge, you'll be more motivated to discuss your taste, and you'll be better at articulating your preferences. The question, "How does it taste?" will take on a whole new meaning.

"Explained logically in 3 points, why the same wine tastes different to everyone, and why it's possible to taste water

Have you ever heard the phrase "tastes like water"?

Rarely is this comment meant as a compliment, and, until now, I've always taken it as a rhetorical statement that no one ever truly answers.

However, a few years ago, when I heard this phrase at a wine tasting, I couldn't help but contemplate it further. What exactly, in detail, did that person mean? How does water taste to them? By what parameters would I evaluate it myself?

Have you ever wondered why someone else tastes something completely different from you when sipping from a glass of wine, eating a dish, or drinking a beverage?

Don't worry; this is not an article about water or psychology but about our own ability and the prerequisites necessary for tasting. We're diving straight into my favorite subject: the science of taste.

This very simple explanation for why everyone tastes differently elicits the biggest "Aha!" moment in my wine courses, both among enthusiasts and wine professionals.

Understanding why everyone tastes differently and how our taste changes without our conscious involvement is fundamental knowledge for delving into the world of wine (and food). I also believe that this knowledge is essential because it strips away the basis for unfriendly or condescending behavior in a culinary context.

Unfortunately, it also demonstrates that when someone describes a wine in exactly the same way as the person next to them, with no differences, they either don't taste consciously or have succumbed to peer pressure at the table.

One thing you'll find at the end of this explanation is that it's not possible for two people to taste exactly the same, and the same drop of water or wine won't taste identical to you from one day to the next.

1. Water and all the beverages we consume have a pH value. So does our saliva, the fluid in our mouths. Enzymes in saliva play a key role in releasing flavors.

Tap water has a pH of 7, while seawater has a pH around 8. I bet you can taste the difference between them. The lower the pH, the more acidic the liquid. The higher the pH, the less "acidic" it is.

"Explained logically in 3 points, why the same wine tastes different to everyone, and why it's possible to taste water
PH Value Examples Graphic

Your mouth's fluid typically has an average pH of around 6, but this measurement varies from person to person and can change based on your physical condition, how much water you've drunk that day, or what you've just consumed. For instance, when you take a sip of white wine, your saliva adjusts more to the pH of the white wine, as that liquid now predominates.

TASTING TIP: ou can gauge the intensity of a wine's acidity by how much saliva your mouth produces after a sip. The more acidic the wine, the more saliva you'll produce. Sometimes, acidity isn't immediately obvious when tasting, especially in wines with more residual sugar, which can mask the perception of acidity.

CAUTION: The pH level on a wine bottle doesn't tell you how acidic a wine will taste to you personally. Other factors in the wine play a role, and different types of acids can be measured differently. That's a more detailed topic for another day.

2. The one thing in your life that has absolutely no taste for you is your own saliva—the fluid in your mouth.

Saliva contains different substances, proteins, and enzymes, depending on the person. Enzymes are especially crucial because they have the ability to release certain flavors, making them "tasteable." When some enzymes are absent, certain flavors won't be released and will be either completely absent or barely perceptible.

What's fascinating is that your taste adjusts to the stimuli it's frequently exposed to. The intensity of perception diminishes with repetition, and you need an even stronger or more potent stimulus (like acidity) for it to become perceptible again.

Since you're exposed to the slightly salty taste of your saliva 24 hours a day, you can't taste it anymore; you've essentially become immune to it. However, when you take a sip of water, you immediately recognize it because it differs from your saliva and has a very neutral pH, unlike other beverages. The more neutral the beverage, the more likely you'll hear the phrase "tastes like water."

"Explained logically in 3 points, why the same wine tastes different to everyone, and why it's possible to taste water

3. Your physical condition and attention, or the practice of tasting wine consciously, change throughout the day and from day to day.

You can easily measure this with a pH test strip. In our tasting workshops, we always start with these test strips because they visually demonstrate the differences among participants. Importantly, these variations in pH don't determine whether someone is a good or bad taster. They merely show that different starting points exist, and these can indeed influence everything that follows.

Additionally, factors like psychology, emotions, and simple attention levels make a difference in our measurements because our bodies respond to them, and these responses are measurable.

I believe that this explanation also provides a logical and understandable explanation for the phenomenon of "vacation wine."

So, these are the three points that make taste individual:

1. The starting point of saliva, including pH and enzymes

2. Genes and enzymes.

3. Daily physical condition and attention

Everyone has an individual "starting point" due to their saliva (the fluid in their mouth), such as pH and enzymes. They also have a "zero-taste zone" for their saliva, as they don't taste their own mouth fluid. This phenomenon allows you to recognize water as distinct because it differs from your saliva.

Your daily physical condition and the attention you give (or practice in tasting wine and consciously savoring it) provide the finishing touches to your individual taste.

My conclusion from this story: Everyone tastes wine differently, and whatever you taste in the wine is genuinely there for you.

In today's world, no one should hesitate to express what they taste in a wine or other beverage. With this article, I aim to remove any logical basis for wine description snobbery.

INTERESTING FACT: The ability to taste (whether more, less, or differently) is necessary for the body's survival and functioning. When we apply this knowledge to food, it becomes clear that without taste, your brain would never signal your stomach to prepare its stomach acid (usually with a pH of around 1) for digesting a carrot instead of a piece of meat. Different compositions are needed to process plant-based and animal-based foods to release their respective nutrients.

Taste and the accompanying neurobiology function subconsciously, with or without your involvement, but you can decide to turn every sip into a moment of enjoyment and give the attention to beverages that is often reserved for food.

Just like languages, flavors and the words used for them vary from country to country, and nobody should or can have every word for every flavor variant on hand. However, I can help you acquire a good basic knowledge with fun, games, knowledge, and, yes, wine, as well as all beverages worthy of savoring.

Tip: The next time you get a basil leaf, chew it for a very long time. It will eventually taste like chamomile. Interesting, isn't it? Or does chamomile taste very similar to basil? They are two fundamentally different flavors, yet they exist in the same leaf. It's a fascinating experiment when you want to take your mind off things.

"Explained logically in 3 points, why the same wine tastes different to everyone, and why it's possible to taste water

Before you go, I have homework for you:

Do you know someone whose taste is completely different from your own or, even more interesting, very similar to yours? Then do the following: send this article directly to that person via WhatsApp or email and insist on meeting for a glass of wine (or beer, juice, coffee, or a meal) this week. Talk about how each bite and sip tastes to you. Where are the differences, where are the similarities? It's a wonderful topic, and I promise you'll have a lot of laughs!

So, here's to cheers!


"Explained logically in 3 points, why the same wine tastes different to everyone, and why it's possible to taste water



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