What makes you a supertaster? Does supertaster status play a role outside of wine tasting? How does age affect our senses of smell and taste? Why is mouthfeel an important aspect of a wine’s appeal? Why should you describe wine by sensation, rather than compound?
In this episode of the Unreserved Wine Talk podcast, we’re chatting with Dr. Gary Pickering, the inventor of the white wine mouthfeel wheel and the supertasting kit, and co-developer of the Wine Aroma Kits.
You can find the wines we discussed here.
- What makes you a supertaster?
- Does your supertaster status play a role outside of wine tasting?
- Why could being a supertaster have a negative impact on your health?
- How does being a supertaster correlate with your alcohol consumption?
- As a woman, how much more likely are you to be a supertaster?
- What advantages do you have as a woman, when it comes to tasting wine?
- How does age affect our senses of smell and taste?
- How can you lose your sense of smell?
- Can an injury impact your ability to smell?
- How can the Wine Awakenings Aroma Kit improve your wine-drinking experience?
- Why is mouthfeel an important aspect of a wine’s appeal?
- Why is the Wine Mouthfeel Wheel an essential tool for wine lovers, winemakers and researchers?
- How do you use the Wine Mouthfeel Wheel?
- How are texture and body related to each other?
- Is mouthfeel connected to tannins?
- When you hear about ripe/unripe tannin, what does that really mean?
- Why should you describe wine by sensation, rather than compound?
- How do super tasters rate wine compared to average ratings?
- How did Gary land in the Trump administration’s crosshairs?
- What made Gary choose the academic route for his wine career?
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It turns out that your supertasting status… also extends to real-life – to foods and beverages. - Dr. Gary Pickering Click to tweet
Supertasters have more taste buds and much greater density of taste buds on their tongue and what that means is they’re getting more signal. Also, by a bit of a different threshold, that means they can pick up small nuances in terms of taste better than the rest of us. - Dr. Gary Pickering Click to tweet
Once you hit your 40s, there’s a slow but consistent drop off in what we call taste thresholds: how much of a compound you need to be able to detect that they are in the glass. - Dr. Gary Pickering Click to tweet
We focus on the tactile, mouthfeel sensations in wine which I think are a huge part of the pleasure we get from wine. - Dr. Gary Pickering Click to tweet
We felt that there needed to be a vocabulary to enable people to be able to talk about these sensations and also to enable researchers who are looking at optimizing winemaking practices to be able to see how these treatments ultimately affect the mouthfeel. - Dr. Gary Pickering Click to tweet
Texture is so important and I think we overlook it when it comes to wine. - Natalie MacLean Click to tweet
I’d suggest we get back to just describing sensation rather than trying to ascribe which compounds that sensation comes from. I don’t think we’re equipped to do that. - Dr. Gary Pickering Click to tweet
About Dr. Gary Pickering
Dr. Gary Pickering, a Professor of Wine Science and researcher at Brock University’s Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute, in Niagara, Canada. He holds a doctorate in Wine Science from Lincoln University in Canterbury, and prior to his current appointment was a lecturer at Charles Stuart University in Australia and senior lecturer and research manager at the Eastern Institute of Technology in New Zealand.
His teaching and research focus on wine flavour, sensory science and development of novel wine products and processes, and he has published over 100 papers, patents, book chapters and conference proceedings. Gary is the recipient of a number of research awards, is passionate about wine and wine education, and is working on a number of books.
Gary is the inventor of the white wine mouthfeel wheel and the supertasting kit and is co-developer of the Wine Aroma Kits. In addition to his work as President of Picksen International Inc, Gary serves as an international wine judge, most recently for Cuvee and InterVin. He also enjoys a good glass of wine!
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Transcript & Takeaways
Welcome to episode 73!
In this episode of the Unreserved Wine Talk podcast, we’re chatting with Dr. Gary Pickering, a Professor of Wine Science and researcher at Brock University’s Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute, in Niagara. He is the inventor of the white wine mouthfeel wheel and the supertasting kit, and is passionate about wine education, and of course, wine. He joins me from his home in Niagara.
This conversation first aired on my regular Facebook live video a couple of years ago, so keep that in mind as the context for Gary’s comments. Also, you’ll occasionally hear me respond to viewer questions. You can be part of that conversation every second Wednesday at 7 pm eastern, including this evening if you’re listening to this podcast on the day that it’s published.
Justa note that many wineries now will ship their wines directly to your home within their province or state, and in some cases, across the country. Many are also offering free delivery during this lockdown as an extra incentive. You’ll be pleasantly surprised just how easy this is to do.
If you want to discover wines that have a satin or velvet mouthfeel, sign up for my free, online video wine class the 5 Wine & Food Pairing Mistakes That Can Ruin Your Dinner (and how to fix them forever!)
Go to nataliemaclean.com/class and choose a time and date that work for you. I look forward to seeing you inside the class!
Okay, on with the show!
You can also watch the video interview with Gary that includes bonus content and behind-the-scenes questions and answers that weren’t included in this podcast.
Well, there you have it! I hope you enjoyed this chat with Dr. Gary Pickering.
Here are my takeaways:
- Gary puts a much-deserved spotlight on the mouth-feel and texture of wine, attributes we often overlook as we’re so focused on aromas and flavours.
- I’m fascinated with his examples of different textures from the luscious, viscous feeling of icewine to the snap, crackle pop of bubbly to the rich, roundness of wine that’s been aged on its lees, the expired yeast cells.
- Gary also helped me clarify the textural differences between wines that feels like silk, with the least resistance on the palate, then satin then velvet. All smooth, but different kinds of smooth.
- I’m so glad he clarified that tannin is a feeling not a taste, it’s the mouth-drying sensation of astringency like eating walnuts. So let’s get rid of mixed metaphors like dusty or ripe tannins shall we.
- Gary points out that women are twice as likely to be super tasters, and apply more accurate and precise labels to wine given our left-brain leaning toward the verbal. Thank-you Gary.
If you liked this episode, please tell a friend about it, especially one who’s interested in the fascinating wine tips that Gary shared. You’ll find links to Gary’s supertasting kit, mouthfeel wheel, research papers, the wines we tasted, a list of Ontario wineries delivering directly to your home, a full transcript of our conversation, the video version of this chat and where you can find us on Facebook live every second Wednesday at 7 pm at nataliemaclean.com/73.
Finally, if you want to connect with me personally, join me in a free online video class at nataliemaclean.com/class.
You won’t want to miss next week when we’ll be chatting with Dr. Laura Catena, a fourth generation Argentine vintner, physician and author. Her father, Nicolas Catena Zapata, often referred to as “the Robert Mondavi of Argentina,” helped facilitate the ascent of Argentine Malbec onto the world stage. Born in Mendoza, Argentina, Laura graduated magna cum laude from Harvard University and has a Medical Doctor degree from Stanford University. Laura combines a strong science background with a passion for her family winery. She is currently managing director of Bodega Catena Zapata and her own Luca Wines in Mendoza, as well as a practicing Emergency Medicine physician in San Francisco. Our conversation was recorded before the pandemic, so I did not distract this dynamo first responder when we need her most.
Thank-you for taking the time to join me here. I hope something great is in your glass this week, perhaps a wine with a silky or velvet mouthfeel!