Savor the Flavor of Eating Right; the theme for this year’s National Nutrition Month® and a perfect fit for Katic’s Korner. National Nutrition Month® is a nutrition education and information campaign created annually in March by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. The campaign focuses attention on the importance of making informed food choices and developing sound eating and physical activity habits. The purpose of Katic’s Korner is to show how food can be BOTH nutritious and delicious. Highlighting flavor can be the cornerstone for eating in general and is even more important when striving to follow a healthy diet. Wine is also about savoring flavors in your glass, so this year’s National Nutrition Month® theme on flavor is right on target for Katic’s Korner. Taste and flavor sound like the same thing but are they? Here is a quick primer on the nuances between taste, aroma and flavor:
• Taste refers to the senses inside our mouth including our tongue.
• Aroma occurs inside our noses and relates specifically to our sense of smell.
• Flavor is when taste and aroma converge.
Taste focuses primarily on five different sensations on the tongue; sweet, salty, bitter, sour, and umami (savory). Aromas are often associated with food and bouquet is used to describe wine smells. Both are simple ways to identify odors in food and wine. Odors float in the air and are detected by the limbic system in our brains, which is connected to the nasal cavity responsible for picking up the aromas in food or bouquet in wine. Finally flavor is how our brains encompass taste, aroma and even mouthfeel. All of these aspects contribute to the food and wine experience and is why experts spend so much time on distinctions between all of these factors.
The challenge is in assigning language to what our sensory system is detecting. Going back to the five common tastes experienced on the tongue, sweet, salty, bitter, sour, umami; we can use these basic tastes to identify the types of foods and wines that are most appealing to each of us. Follow your own personal taste cues. You do not have to drink a wine that does not taste good just because an expert assigns a high “score” to the wine. You would not dream of eating a food that you do not like soley because a chef gave the food high marks. Peoples’ tastes change and evolve as our experiences expand. They also develop as we age. Start with what you like and you will progress in time. This is true with BOTH food and wine. The important factor is to consider savoring both when you sit down to enjoy your nutritious and delicious meal.