Approximately 75–95% of what we perceive as “taste” is in fact due to our sense of smell. This is mainly due to retronasal olfaction or smell.
Useful Flavour Information
BACKGROUND: Taste, Smell & Flavour
Flavour is defined as the blend of taste and smell sensations evoked by a substance in the mouth.
The human senses of taste & smell can vary depending on genetic makeup, sex, health, training, environmental factors & fatigue.
Taste, along with smell (olfaction) and trigeminal nerve stimulation (registering texture, pain, and temperature), determines flavors of food or other substances. Humans have taste receptors on taste buds (gustatory calyculi) and other areas including the upper surface of the tongue and the epiglottis (wikipedia).
Odorous molecules act as a chemical stimulus. Molecules bind to receptor proteins extended from cilia, initiating an electric signal. An odour or odour or fragrance is caused by one or more volatilized chemical compounds, generally at a very low concentration, that humans or other animals perceive by the sense of olfaction. Odors are also commonly called scents, which can refer to both pleasant and unpleasant odors.
The number & shape of taste buds or fungiform papillae varies from one person to another. The sensory capacities of the taste buds are dictated by the structure of the receptors on the taste cells.
Genetics plays a major role in the soapy taste of coriander experienced by some. Scientists have found a set of genes related to smell and taste responsible for this.
Describing Flavour Profiles
One might think that describing a flavour when tasting and smelling is a challenging endeavour. There are many flavour descriptors that exist in the industry, such as our own Novotaste flavour descriptors. These are simply useful tools that are used by flavourists on a regular bases. The reality is by just communicating common and laymen terms when tasting and smelling, one is actually describing a flavour profile. It is important not to overthink, rely on your instincts, and remember that describing a flavour is simply communicating what you perceive during the process of tasting and smelling.
Flavour wheels consist of flavour descriptors for specific applications.
- In the morning (taste buds & the olfactory bulb are the most sensitive)
- Evaluate in a room devoid of smell, sound & other sensory stimuli
- Do not smoke or drink alcohol
- The flavour cannot be overdosed in your application, since this will overwhelm your senses of taste & smell
- Flavour should be evaluated in a matrix that is as close to the intended application as possible
- Do not solely rely on your own sensory interpretation
- Close your eyes when tasting or smelling
Applying Flavours to Various Applications
As the day passes, our smell & taste sensitivity will generally decrease. It is a quite common mistake to evaluate flavour profiles late in the afternoon &/or after consecutive sensory analyses.
Going outside to get a fresh breath of air is always recommended to regain some sensitivity. Eating unsalted soda crackers is also a very effective way of neutralizing aftertaste.