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I’d always been told that you tasted different flavours on different parts of the tongue, as per the map above.

  1. The back of the tongue: bitter tastes.
  2. The sides of the tongue near the back: sour tastes.
  3. The sides of the tongue near the front: salty tastes.
  4. The tip of the tongue: sweet tastes.

But this article, based on one from Nature, says, “The notion that the tongue is mapped into four areas—sweet, sour, salty and bitter—is wrong.  There are five basic tastes identified so far, and the entire tongue can sense all of these tastes more or less equally.”

They quote research that concluded, “Collings found that all tastes can be detected anywhere there are taste receptors—around the tongue, on the soft palate at back roof of the mouth, and even in the epiglottis, the flap that blocks food from the windpipe.” 

Well there you go. Tomorrow I’m at a big tasting of New Zealand wines at Lords. I think this could be a good time to put the research to the test.


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