If you watched Mondovino, you know that Robert Parker is a Supertaster and has his palate insured for one million dollars. OK then, what is a Supertaster? It’s a person who's more sensitive to tastes than others because of a higher density of papillae on their tongue. According to studies conducted since the 1930’s approximately 25% of all people are supertasters, 50% regular tasters and 25% non tasters.
I first read about this in Jennifer Rosen’s entertaining article Taste Test. More recently it was referred to in Jamie Goode’s excellent new book Wine Science. I couldn’t wait any longer.
To test yourself, you’ll need:
- Blue food coloring
- Q-tips (or something to dab the food coloring on your tongue – I used a paper towel)
- Piece of paper with a standard (7mm) hole punched in it.
- Magnifying glass or camera with close-up macro mode
- Dab the blue food coloring on the tip of your tongue
- place the piece of paper with the hole in it on the tip of your tongue
- Using the magnifying glass, count the pink dots (your papillae) in the hole or take a close-up photo.
- If you count less than 15 papillae, you’re a non-taster.
- Between 15 and 35, you’re a regular taster.
- Over 35, you’re a supertaster.
I counted 27, so I’m a regular taster. Damn! The picture on the right isn't a bunch of botrytised grapes; it’s a 7mm diameter part of my tongue with blue food coloring on it. To find out more about supertasters go to the BBC’s Science and Nature.