Have you seen the t.v. commercials and print ads that mention “umami”? The commercials have been around for a couple of years.
I decided to find out more about umami. So off to the library I go, digging out my car from under the snow pile and scraping the ice off the windshield.
“Why not just do a ‘google’ search?”, I ask myself. I really needed to get out. I was getting cabin fever and it seemed like I’ve been in the house for a month (it was only 1 day). The library was going to be my sanctuary for a few hours.
Well, what an eye-opener. Turns out the library is quite a bit different now than I remember. They use computers — what a concept!
When I realized I would have to use their computers I decided I may just as well go home and use my own computer.
Umami is not really a taste but it is a taste enhancer that is derived from glutamates which is an amino acid which is naturally found in many foods we eat every day. You can think of Umami as the concept of enhancing the flavors of a food.
Glutamates are a natural amino acid and should not be confused with mono-sodium glutamate which is a man-made product.
Some of the common food items containing glutamates is meat, cheese, seafood and many other protein rich foods, as well as tomatoes, potatoes, shiitake mushrooms, carrots, seaweed and asparagus, just to mention a few. These foods with high amounts of glutamates interact with other foods to create distinct flavors.
What does Umami have to do with wine? Nothing more than trying to taste and identify the flavors. Wine tasting can be challenging, but it’s important to remember that we each will taste something different in the same wine.
Each of our palates is distinctly different. Most often if we are seated at a table and each person was given the same food and drink we each would taste something different.
Many wine snobs or wine experts will taste and identify very different flavor profiles and characteristics in the same wine. Imagine how confused we get when we read wine reviews and don’t get the same taste and flavors for the same wine.
Our personal tastes, perceptions, and palates are definitely different. This doesn’t mean we will never enjoy wine because we didn’t taste the same things the experts did. It only means that eating and drinking is a very personal experience. What our senses tell us has no bearing on what we should or should not like based on the written notes of experts.
This is important for us to remember not only for food and drinks, but for everything we have an opinion about. My mother-in-law used to say that’s what makes horse races. Cliche yes, but very true.
Please join me next week as I continue the ‘learn something new’ journey.