Posted by: David Stewart | March 29, 2011

Taste and Age

My dad used to complain that by the time you have enough money to afford a decent home audio system, your hearing is so ruined that you can’t appreciate it.

This is because as we age, we lose sensitivity in our hearing, particularly in the high frequencies. According to an article in today’s Portland Oregonian, we also lose sensitivity in our taste buds as we age. The really shocking impact of this is that the most famous wine critics are getting older – many of them are in their 60s. So as a result, they may only give high ratings to wines which are killer and over-the-top.

It used to be that a bit of age and maturity was important to establish good taste…

  • Older people don’t taste their food as intensely as younger people. Maybe this is why you have famous chefs who are quite young.
  • Steve Jobs, the acknowledged taste-maker at Apple is no spring chicken. In fact, he is showing his age a bit. (Sorry, Steve).
  • People say the old wine has a better taste. Pinot Noir wines in Oregon’s Willamette Valley are aged at least a year in the bottle, and the better ones are aged at least 18 months. Only today in 2011 are the finest 2008 Pinots becoming available. But really old Pinots are not greater. In fact, the fruit is usually totally gone with 30 year old Pinot.
  • Beef needs to be aged to taste good. In fact, there was an urban legend going around about an ultra high end restaurant which had a breed of miniature cows; you would pick your cow out like picking out a lobster. Well, not true because you need to age the beef for it to have good taste and be tender.

OK, let’s not be absurd here.

But it’s annoying to think that I might not appreciate a nice wine when I get older. Guess I will need to drink it before I can’t tell how it tastes. Or get some chronic illness that prevents me from drinking it at all.


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