Move Over Blanton's, These GWAR Whiskey Bottle Toppers are Monstrous
New Drink Books Summer 2021

Supertasters and Covid-19

SuperJust yesterday I gave a tasting of the bitter components found in Jagermeister and other bitter/sweet liqueurs. In my introduction I have everyone taste a sample of aloin, a compound from aloe that is extremely bitter and used in fernets in particular. However, not everyone can taste it, as I learned in Amy Stewart's The Drunken Botanist

You may have done a version of a supertaster test at a cocktail education seminar: You taste PTC strips and depending on how  bitter it tastes to you, you are categorized as a supertaster, regular taster, or non-taster. This test is often misinterpreted though - there are something like 30 different bitter receptors on the tongue so being sensitive to PTC doesn't mean you're sensitive to all other bitters. A little bit more on the different types of supertaster tests here.

Also, many people think being a supertaster is a good thing - it's not! It's more likely to mean that you can't stand bitter things like coffee and amaro. Personally, I am fine with bitter amari but coffee tastes pretty bitter to me (I drink it anyway) and hops are extremely bitter to me so I can't really drink IPAs. 

Anyway, W. Blake Gray writes for Wine Searcher about a recent scientific study that shows that supertasters are less likely to catch or be hospitalized from COVID-19.  The theory is that  "more intense taste experiences – is correlated with a lower risk of bacterial infection" possibly because the receptors for this one type of bitterness, when activated, produce nitric oxide and "Nitric oxide has been shown to inhibit the spike protein of the virus that causes Covid-19."

Fascinating! So non-tasters, the folks for whom dark green vegetables, IPAs, and Fernet-Branca taste mild, are more likely to suffer severe impacts from Covid. I guess there are positives to being a supertaster after all.



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