If you are a hardcore foodie or in the food/wine trade, this book is a must read for you. Seriously. As a sommelier, I am constantly trying to understand food/wine experiences from a professional standpoint and also from a casual diner’s perspective. I cannot make someone like stiff tannins even when paired with a food that will offset the tannins and make the tannins purposeful and tame. Stuckey writes, “The fact is that perception occurs in the mind. As a result, it is virtually impossible to measure accurately. Take the perception of beauty. How pretty is Angelina Jolie? How beautiful is the city of Paris? There is no definitive answer to either of these questions. The answer varies with the individual. Asking about someone’s perception of food is similarly complicated. Each person is biased (and informed) by his own anatomy, genetics and life experience. Taste perception is in the mouth and brain of the beholder.”
Stuckey is not that into science, self-proclaimed, but yet she does her homework and enlightens us with what taste is. She examines the taste map of the tongue, the three different types of tasters (tolerant tasters, tasters, hyper tasters), and ways in which our senses experience food and wine. She also gives us exercises to conduct our own research.
One major component that I am in complete agreement on with Stuckey is that people don’t slow down and actually evaluate food. As a wine professional we study the appearance first. Is it cloudy? What color of yellow is the white wine? Watery? Viscosity? All this is done before we even put our nose in the glass. Then we smell and taste (two separate steps). Stuckey writes, “ If you really want to taste something, it’s a good idea to keep it in your mouth as long as possible. Put your fork down. Take a few breaths. Chew some more. Swish it around. Then swallow.” If we all did this we would all enjoy our meals more and eat less as you are actually letting your mind and stomach keep pace with the intake. You will reach the full limit of your stomach way before you have over-stuffed yourself and your tastebuds will be sated. That’s it! That is my new weight loss plan! Slow down, savor and eat less. Sounds perfectly enjoyable to me.
Angela Camacho, a certified sommelier and author of a best selling wine tool, The Wine Wheel®, shares her obsession with wine and food.