An accomplished taster continually explores a vast repertoire of foods, from artichokes to zucchini. Moreover, the food experiences are filed away in the taster’s memory banks, readily recalled to help name each new taste sensation. When tasting foods with a view to describing the sensory experience, the basic rules are: be in good health, avoid smoking, drinking coffee, eating chocolate or any food with a strong or persistent taste prior to a tasting. It is also suggested to avoid perfumes, scented lotions and creams. Experts have learned that these conditions will affect the taste perceived. Tasting should be an enjoyable experience for the taster and should be done in a well-ventilated room, where there are no extraneous odours or noises.
Tasting Maple Syrup
Although professional tasters require extensive training, you can sharpen your tasting skills with maple syrup by following these steps:
- First, smell the syrup by taking three quick sniffs. Make a mental note of your impressions. Next, take a small sip of the syrup and swirl it around in your mouth. It is a good idea to spit it out if you can. Take about a minute to concentrate on the full range of flavours.
- Try to associate the flavour with your own experience (for example, the aroma from a bag of marshmallows).
- If possible, share your reaction with others, as this often helps trigger memory associations. Once you have identified what you think characterizes the taste, memorize the sensation and the name for it (for example, vanilla).
- Finally, where possible, assess the degree of intensity (mild, medium or strong).
Source: Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada