There’s a new study out by Penn State researchers that purports a person’s ability to perceive subtle nuances in wine is based more on physiology than training. This kind of study makes the rounds every few years, and by the time the findings are ready for public consumption, the information’s typically framed like this: If wine appreciation’s based largely on physiology, and you’re not a proven high-functioning taster, will you appreciate expensive wine? In other words, maybe you should just stick to the boxed stuff.
People are, naturally, born with varying abilities to taste certain flavors, but with beer lovers, education’s the emphasis—and for us, education’s still relatively inexpensive, even with world-class beer. What’s the best way to train your palate to identify between a Munich Helles and a Dortmunder export? Drink. What’s the easiest way to develop a preference for hop varieties? Drink. What’s the best way to prepare for the BJCP or Cicerone tasting exams? Drink. It’s not a question of whether we’re worthy enough to enjoy the next bottle of beer; it’s a question of whether we’ve finished enjoying the first one.
Of course, this study was done by scientists, and they do have a tendency to be sciencey.