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Women really do have the best palates


So, it seems it is increasingly official. Women make better tasters.

And younger tasters are more likely to have more varied “emotional responses” to different wines.

As usual, there is a bit of real science and some news buried in the article somewhere, and the headline writer has COMPLETELY missed the point, but it is interesting to see that there are actual measurable differences between tasters that can be attributed to sex and age.

This is about the ability to distinguish wines from each other, and to feel emotionally affected by them, which means it would be great to have more suggestions from younger and female members.

What it does NOT mean is that we older males aren’t handy at dinner parties … if only to use our experience to test for faults!


For best results, get a pregnant woman. Although they can’t drink them, which elicits an emotional response in itself.


@tom is right!

Reading between the lines, that study seems to have been about differences in eliciting emotional reactions. The other bit (on which sex has the best tasters) has been studied for some years now. But as I recall -

The best tasters in general are women of childbearing age. That extra sensitivity goes away after the menopause. Women of all ages also seem to have a better olfactory memory than men.

Then there are supertasters, who are able to discern more components in a taste. Supertasters occur in both sexes, but there are proportionately more women supertasters than men.


My good friend Helen McGinn (aka Knackered Mother!), when a buyer at Tesco’s many moons ago picked up on this.


I might be imagining this, but didn’t Jancis Robinson pass her MW whilst pregnant…?


I too think women have better noses than men, which covers much of the experience of drinking wine. I’m not sure what the difference would be if a bunch of men and women tasted wines with clothes pegs over their noses. Possibly not worth the experiment!


I used to make visitors do this when running the ‘how to taste wine’ seminar at Vinopolis, always good fun to watch them try and sniff the wine after that :rofl:


That is correct.

However, there are practical issues to working exclusively with women during pregnancy.

What I think IS interesting would be to get more female voices in the places we get recommendations from, like Helen McGinn and others


From this article I could also draw the conclusion that part of the ‘point inflation’ over the years could be due to the same critics year after year simply getting older!


Ok! A few more years to reap hormonal-related benefits, then!! :crazy_face:


I’m so glad a man started this thread :joy: and I agree, where would the fun be if us woman sat around by ourselves decoding the aromatics of wine. Its great to share.
Especially with other wine lovers, be it men or not.:stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:


I don’t know if this is true and would welcome a peer-reviewed paper on, first, whether supertasters even exist and precisely what they are, and then another paper on their prevalence by sex.

But from what I’ve read, the unhelpfully named supertasters (purportedly around 25% of palates, so not exactly rare, if true) are at a disadvantage when tasting, because they dislike so many wines. The reason it’s a bad name is that (a) it sort of suggests rarity, which at 25% is inaccurate, (b) a “skill”, which it isn’t, and (c ) that somehow it’s an advantage, when the opposite is the case.

Supertasters are just more sensitive to stuff like tannin , acid, sugar etc. and often recoil at wines that many others like. They often fail to see subtlety and nuance because they’re overwhelmed by some more basic characteristic. I would warrant that many of the world’s great palates are not “super”.


My reading and memory of the ‘supertaster’ debate is like yours.

I seem to recall it was about being easily overwhelmed and therefore not liking a full range of wine styles.

Hanni’s work expands on groundbreaking research done by Bartoshuk, a renowned scientist, who said some people are “supertasters,” with heightened sensitivity, and others are “nontasters,” for whom taste sensations are not as intense.

“Linda Bartoshuk now says this is the wrong term,” says Hanni. “Everybody wants to be the supertaster. But people are living in different sensory worlds. It’s not better to be a supertaster. ‘Supertasters’ often can’t even stand wine. It’s too bitter, the tannins are too dry, the alcohol is too intense.”

Hanni thinks these people might enjoy sweet wines, but one of his constant themes, for more than a decade, has been to tell the wine industry that it should stop chasing these consumers away.


This all begs the question, why is wine (as an interest) so male-dominated? Or rather, why does this (and every other wine-based) forum have so many more active male participants than female? Is it just that men are more active on internet forums? Or take a keener interest in building up collections of things? Or do they just like wine more? I wouldn’t say that there are generally more men than women in your average wine bar, but there certainly seem to be more men interested in fine wine. Of course, this is all anecdotal and not remotely scientific, but I’d be interested to see what the split is in Society membership between men and women, and then whether that split is reflected in active Community member numbers.

(I’ve thought about bringing this up as a topic before, but didn’t want to have to attempt to define “male” or “female” because it obviously isn’t straightforward… So I’m basically talking about the split between people using Mr as a title, and people using Ms/Mrs!)
@robert_mcintosh do split this into a new topic if you see fit!


It’s this. It absolutely appeals to the “collector mentality” and the encyclopaedic potential and cross-referencing mania that afflicts men more often than women. This is not a value judgment of any kind. It’s just this. (Think also stamps, vinyl records, things men keep in sheds, trainspotters, whatever).


I do think women are collectors too … albeit different things… shoes (guilty as charged!), hand bags, glassware (I have numerous friends who just can’t stop purchasing glasses)! Make-up etc… there are many make-up forums where you would not believe the addiction some females have and their collections are quite astonishing! So I don’t believe men are exclusive in their desire to “collect” .


Yes - but importantly, not in the same way. Do these women classify them like men do? Do they keep spreadsheets on their shoes? Do they order them and reorder them according to obscure criteria? Do they build sheds and cellars and attics to keep them? This is why I referred to cross-referencing. Wine has all the ingredients to appeal to this mentality - its endless cross-referencing potential (grapes, vintages, winemakers, regions, etc. etc.) It is this aspect of the collector’s mentality that is overwhelmingly masculine.


Rather a lot wild generalisations without evidence. Is this really acceptable on this (or any other) forum?


@ricard…! Oh yes :rofl::rofl:…! You should meet some of the women I know! I keep my shoes in individual boxes in their own shoe/bag “cupboard” , however I don’t list or categorise them. I have friends who use a similiar system but with Polaroids on the outside of each box , grouped together with certain criteria . This is small scale … have you seen Maria Carey’s wardrobe ?? She needs a golf cart to get around it . :rofl:.
I hope this link works , doing from my phone … but it’s funny :joy:.


I stand corrected! :rofl: