Aficionados use words like “oaky” to describe some wines, or “hoppy” when talking about certain beers. But for rum—a product with over 1,000 different varieties—putting the words together to describe what imbibers are smelling and tasting is a bit more difficult.
When we exhale while we’re eating, air sweeps into the back of the mouth and throat where a heap of flavor compounds are and carries them up into the nose where we can enjoy them.
When it comes to enjoying the flavors in food, our tongues really aren’t that useful. They can detect just a few basic tastes: sweet, salt, sour, bitter, umami, and maybe fat.
But real complexity comes from a food or drink’s aroma, and the main way we sense all the compounds isn’t from sniffing. Our bodies actually blast scents from the back of our mouths up into our nasal cavity where we can take in the difference between merlot and Chianti, according to a study published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.
A new study of people eating amid airplane cabin noise adds to growing research about how our environment affects flavor perception.
In the study, published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, researchers had 48 men and women try liquid solutions of five different tastes: sweet, salty, sour, bitter and umami at different concentrations. There was a catch, however. The men and women tried them in either a room either normal ambient noise, or one with simulated loud airplane cabin noise.