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Monday, August 02, 2010
Tasting Beer with Women
Some beer writing around the Web recently substantiated what I've long thought to be true, that--generally speaking--women taste and talk about beer more _________ than do men. Better? More decisively? More accurately? What's the word, I'm not sure. You can try to fill in the blank yourself perhaps. Now, of course, as with everything in life, this is not a hard and fast rule but rather a generalization that I've been overheard professing. Now reading up on some of what these other blogs have researched, it turns out there may be some scientific evidence to support this claim. Take for example, the beer that Patty and I often drink together. Occasionally, I'll be the first to throw out descriptors of taste and smell. Sometimes she is. More often, though, she's the one who is quicker to identify a much more subtle flavor...a very specific subtle flavor. For example, I may say something along the lines of 'smoky' or 'grapefruit', (you know, some of the easier, most basic descriptors) only to finally dive into finer detail minutes later. Patty, on the other hand might jump right in with 'cauliflower', 'oregano', or 'Campho-Phenique'. Is this due to a difference in tasting abilities (i.e. am I a 'moderate taster' and she a 'supertaster'?) or a difference in how the two sexes perceive taste? Here's where another of my famous generalizations comes up. Occasionally, I can suffer from being the stereotypical "guy", where I opt for the path of least resistance to communication (I know, crazy eh? Considering all of the words I go through in an attempt to communicate something/anything around here!). "I like this beer. It tastes like X, Y, and/or Z. Hm, I'm picking up on this." Ggrrr, grunt, scratch--Now moving on, next!....Whereas Patty may pick up on one taste, one smell....ponder it....talk about it. Then, move on to another subtle taste, smell, talk about it, etc. I suppose that I'm overreaching to put myself down as some dumb guy who is loathe to talk too specifically about beer in an attempt to make a point. Truth is, I dwell on and ponder a beer's characteristics far longer than many people I know. But, let's move on to one other point that I don't think is discussed as much. Does this mean that women are generally predisposed to picking up on matters of the senses better than their male counterparts? For whatever the scientific evidence says, my years worth of anecdotal evidence seems to say yes. But, in addition, that they are often times better communicators than are males. To say that women are more inclined than men to talk, and talk descriptively, about how something tastes, how something smells, how something makes them feel physically and emotionally is not too much of a stretch in my opinion. Therefore, what they're are tasting and smelling and experiencing in a beer has a better chance of being communicated and shared during a beer tasting. Let's get some other perspectives and then I'll ask you to weigh in with your opinions and experiences. Alan on his Ontario-based A Good Beer Blog thinks about supertasters versus moderate tasters versus nontasters in terms of race, personality, experience, and gender. He comes to the conclusion that we need to accommodate and listen to both those with simply greater sensitivity in addition to those predisposed to a greater appreciation for beer. With a few comments from his readers, he gathered up a nice little conversation about taste, smell, attentiveness, and the sexes. Stepping with some perspective direct from the female side of the conversation (that's a good thing, don't you think!? :) Melissa at Taking the Beard out of Beer from across the pond has taken the opportunity to write not so much about the matter of tasting abilities in females, but rather her views of advances that women have and have not made in society. Very rich material in my opinion. This sentence hooked me and I think it will you as well: "How did we get to place where it’s okay for the Playboy-brand, or sexually suggestive slogans, to be seen emblazoned across little girls’ chests on a regular basis but we won’t let teenagers in pubs?" Jeff from the Oregon-based Beervana wonders if it's nature or nurture and agrees that women are more prone to appreciation and thoughtful criticism. Village Voice adds some anecdotal evidence from SABMiller.