Is the Tongue Map correct?

Posted by Jay Lee and edited by Peter Koff MW on 7th Aug 2018

Is the Tongue Map correct?

Have you heard of the tongue map or taste map?

The tongue map or taste map is a theory that there are specific areas of the tongue where you can taste only certain tastes; sweetness at the tip, saltiness and acidity at the sides, and bitterness at the back. While it is true that certain parts of the tongue are more sensitive to certain tastes, there are receptors for all the tastes, including a now generally accepted new addition, umami – the savory taste, all over the tongue.

Though disproved, there are many who still hold to the tongue map, including numerous wine cognoscenti. The map is readily available on the internet.

But this is almost as incorrect as believing the earth is flat!

Therefore, it’s not true to say you can taste only sweetness with the tip of your tongue and no other tastes.

This is yet another example of how a neat theory, even a radically incorrect one, can persist over an extended period of time. We won’t try to have all references to the tongue map excised from the literature but we are happy dear reader to arm you with knowledge!

If our palates are healthy and uninjured, we can taste and discern between tastes. So why are some tasters better than others? The reason is that they care; they concentrate when they taste and try to differentiate between different tastes. It also helps to write down the taste sensations as you experience them. In this way you can greatly improve your tasting ability and your ability to differentiate tastes. More accomplished tasters develop a taste memory, an ability to recognize a specific taste sensation as the same as, or similar to, a previous experience and to draw on what was learned before.

Want to taste a wine which really stimulates your tongue?

Click on the bottle below.

Selected by Peter Koff MW


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