Flavour styles

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Normally you’d describe a wine by his taste or terms on a flavour wheel. Peter Klose, a luxury restaurant owner and founder of the Academy for Gastronomy has desscribed a new flavour theory to describe wines and match them with food. In this blogpost I describe this system very briefly. Maybe too briefly, so when you’re interested, I advice you to read the extensive English summary which can be found here or even better the original thesis (which can’t be found online, but maybe in the university library nearby).

The central part is mouthfeel. There are three parameters to describe food and beverages in this system

  • Contracting mouthfeel
    Acidity and saltiness trigger a contracting response in the mouth. Also drying (roughing, puckering) effect in the mouth caused by tannins (red wine) and other bitter tasting elements (as in coffee, tea or unsweetened chocolate) is also characteristic of contracting mouthfeel.
  • Coating mouthfeel
    Creamy, fatty substances and those containing a significant amount of dissolved sugars coat the mouth. In other words, they leave a layer of fat or sugar behind. In beverages, alcohol and sugars are viscous, coating elements. They coat the mouth, and this coating may influence the way in which the mouth perceives the next mouthful of food it encounters. Proteins also produce a coating mouthfeel, especially amino acids and some chemical substitutions like gelatin.
  • Flavour richness
    How more taste, how higher the flavour richness

Flavour profile

Foods and drinks can be classified with the three above-mentioned parameters. Contracting mouthfeel, coating mouthfeel and flavour richness can all be scaled from low to high.  Combining these parameters give 8 combinations, which is visualized in the three-dimensional model below: the flavour styles cube

flavour style primary flavour factors
contracting mouthfeel coating mouthfeel flavour richness
1. neutral Low Low Low
2. round Low High Low
3. balance fresh High High Low
4. fresh High Low Low
5. powerful/dry Low Low High
6. rich Low High High
7. balance ripe High High High
8. pungent High Low High

Practical use
Flavour is what wines and food have in common. Thus, the same descriptors can be used. This leads to new guidelines for the paring of food and wine. Basically, good combinations are found if the flavour profile of wines and foods resemble one another. In other words:

  • Contracting wines go well with contracting foods
  • Coating wines go well with coating foods
  • The flavour richness of wines and foods should be about the same
  • The rule of thumb when composing a menu is to progress from contracting to coating foods and wines, and from lower levels of flavour richness to higher levels.

Culinary success factors

The research of mr. Klosse also showed that there are six characteristics for a successful combination of product characteristics of a restaurant dish. (‘palatability’). When applied to the recipes in a hospital in Danmark, the patient satisfaction with regard to food has risen very much.

  • the name and presentation must fit the expectation
  • the aroma should be appetising and appropriate to the food
  • there should be a good balance of flavour components in relation to the food
  • the savoury, ‘deliciousness’ factor, umami (also called the fifth basic taste), must be present
  • the mouthfeel of the dish should offer a mix of hard and soft textures
  • it must be characterised by high flavour richness

Source and copyright: Peter Klosse: Food and wine matching – a new approach, 15 Oct 2008, retrieved at http://www.jancisrobinson.com/articles/a200810141.html at 11 March 2011. Outline by the CrazyWaiter

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