Dr. Linda Bartoshuk, at Yale University School of Medicine, discovered the super taster phenomenon in 1999, along with the fact that women are more than twice as likely to be super tasters than men.
To test her theory, Dr. Bartoshuk dipped a thyroid medication on study participants’ tongues to test their sensitivity to bitterness. Based on the results, she divided the population into three groups: non-tasters with limited palates (25%), tasters with average palates (50%) and super tasters with very sensitive palates (25%).
Super tasters more than a hundred times more taste buds per square centimetre than do regular tasters. She compares this to having 500 fingers rather than just five, and says that super tasters live in a “neon world of taste” compared to the pastel palate of non-tasters.
The reason that women are twice as likely to be among that small group of super tasters is that we have more fungiform papillae, the tiny structures on the tongue that hold taste buds, than men.
Tim Hanni, a sensory taste specialist and Master of Wine in California, measured the density and number of my taste buds, and it turns out that (at least scientifically) I am a super taster, as is the British wine critic Jancis Robinson, among others. And certainly, there is an increasing number of women winemakers who craft cult wines, but is this related to their tasting ability or plain hard work, or both?
What do you think?