Many of us were taught that humans can sense four tastes: salty, sweet, sour, and bitter. But did you know that there are actually seven tastes? And ongoing research suggests there may even be an eighth.
This is the simplest of the tastes. Salt is actually the compound sodium chloride, which is necessary for the human body. That’s because it regulates fluids and creates nerve impulses. Humans perceive it as warming, soothing and drying. Any foods with sodium chloride are perceived as salty. Examples include soy sauce, celery, baking soda/powder, seaweed and olives.
Sweetness indicates the presence of sugars in foods, along with certain proteins. The sweet taste is pleasurable to most people, except in excess. It is calming and relaxing. Also, the tongue may perceive it as moist. Common foods that taste sweet are sugar, cinnamon, dill, honey, butter, wheat, almonds, carrots and avocado.
Sour tastes let us know that there are acids in certain foods. This stimulates the digestive system, metabolism and appetite, but, as an added bonus, can also relieve gas. Citrus fruits are the most common sour fruits. Other sour foods include yogurt, sour cream, tomatoes, vinegar, goat cheese, pickles and sauerkraut.
The bitter taste receptors identify bases in foods. Humans taste bitterness so that we may avoid naturally toxic substances, most of which taste bitter. Because of this, it is the taste we are most sensitive to. In fact, we are so sensitive that many perceive bitter foods to be unpleasant, sharp or disagreeable. Some bitter foods include coffee, unsweetened cocoa and citrus peel. Quinine, found in tonic water, is also quite bitter.
This flavor is often described as “savory” or “meaty.” Salt magnifies the taste, which is why adding salt to a tomato amplifies the flavor. Umami-rich foods include Parmesan cheese, miso, soy sauce, mushrooms, walnuts, grapes and broccoli. To a lesser degree, it’s also found in meats.
This taste is in addition to the basic five tastes that humans perceive. Astringent foods contain tannins, which constrict organic tissue. It causes a puckering sensation that may also be described as rubbery, styptic, dry or rough. In addition, it may be described as harsh when found in wine, or tart, in sour foods. The astringent flavor is found in tea, unripe fruit, nutmeg, rosemary, green apples, spinach and lentils.
The pungent taste is perceived as dry heat. It can boost metabolism and circulation, aid digestion and reduce body fat. Pungent foods include basil, chili powder, all hot peppers, ginger, peppermint, cayenne, horseradish, onion and garlic.
An Eighth Taste?
Since the 1800s, there have been arguments over whether or not fat is another taste that humans can perceive. The theory is that humans developed it in order to ensure we got enough high fat during times of food scarcity. In 2005, French researchers discovered that rats do have the taste receptor for fat. It is still unclear whether humans do, but it is clear that fatty foods like French fries are absolutely delicious.
Text by Jennie Tippett
On May 10th, Market Table will host a wine tasting to benefit PreSchool Partners, a Birmingham school that works to provide a high-quality early education to underserved families. PreSchool Partners was started 23 years ago, and it’s only continued to grow. According to their website, during the 2017-18 school year alone, PreSchool Partners serves 180 people, 90 children and 90 parents.
“We are able to see our students come full circle as they succeed as college grads, professionals in the community, and as highly ranked service members,” says PreSchool Partners’ Director of Development, Stephanie Pressley.
The success of this school comes from the dedicated staff and parents. A unique aspect of PreSchool Partner’s education is that parents are required to go to a class once a week for their child to receive reduced tuition. “Research shows that parent involvement is an indicator of academic success,” Pressley says. “Our parents attend a weekly parent program focus on giving them the tools that will support their child’s learning process as well as resources to help advance them personally.”
According to PreSchool Partner’s website, some of the topics covered during the Parent Program include anger management, nutrition, child development, dealing with temper tantrums and money management. Parents are also able to participate in “Families Reading Together.” This program provides parents with a book each week so that they can read with their children. Also, a trained instructor facilities the reading to help the child develop their reading skills.
All of these incredible programs require donations to keep them running. And is there any better way to donate than by attending a wine tasting event?
“We are all about community and we think that Market Table’s values align with ours,” Pressley says. “Money raised at the event will go directly to our program. With every $1,000, we are able to provide a deserving family with their school year tuition.”
The wine tasting will start and 6:00 and go until 8:00. Tickets are only $20. You’ll get to taste 4 wines — and you’ll get two full glasses of the wine of your choice as well. The proceeds from every ticket go directly to PreSchool Partners. Additionally, during the event, all wine bottles will be 20% off.
If you can’t make it to the wine tasting event, there are several other ways to support PreSchool Partners. For more information, visit preschool-partners.org.
Text by Katherine Polcari
Celebrating Valentine’s Day from the comfort of your own home allows for a certain level of intimacy that a busy restaurant will never be able to offer. You can even do dinner and a movie without fighting traffic. Instead, it’s just a few steps from the table to the living room couch.
Set the Mood
You know your partner best, so transform your home into the atmosphere where they feel most at-home. Celebrate by framing and displaying your favorite pictures of you and your partner. These stenciled Valentine Heart Frames would make the perfect home for your favorite photos. And if you’re crafty, try making some of your own decorations. If you still want the environment of a fancy restaurant, use a tablecloth, candles, a floral centerpiece and background music. You may even get some bonus points if you put your partner’s favorite songs on the playlist.
No romantic evening is complete without a good bottle of wine. Red wine and chocolate are known as some of the best — and most romantic — aphrodisiacs. With so much chocolate available during this season, why not grab a bottle of red to accompany it? You can even buy a couple of different bottles to taste-test with your meal. Between dinner, dessert and a movie, there will be plenty of time to finish off the leftovers. At Market Table, you’ll find all the reds, whites and rosés your heart desires — plus, we can play matchmaker and find the perfect wine for your meal.
The Perfect Dinner
You may want to impress your partner with a home-cooked meal. If you’re short on time, try Market Table’s meal kits. The ingredients are already prepared for you, down to the chopping and measuring. All you have to do is put it all together and throw it into the oven. While you are waiting on the food to cook, a Market Table cheese plate will pair nicely with the wine that you bought for the evening. Or, if you’re in a rush, let us do all of the work! Market Table offers three full Valentine’s Day dinners: Garlic Shrimp Alfredo, Steak, and Creamy Tuscan Chicken. For desert, our cheesecake or flourless chocolate cake will make even the busiest heart flutter.
Speaking of Dessert …
Honestly, Valentine’s Day is all about sweets. This year, trade in the tired heart-shaped box of chocolates for a decadent dessert. Anything chocolate is sure to be a winning choice, but you can also try one of Market Table’s prepared desserts to mix things up this year. And remember — if Market Table does the cooking, you won’t have to do many dishes!
Save the Dishes for the Morning
Don’t let a few dirty dishes get in the way of your romantic evening. Instead, use that time to watch a good, corny romantic comedy. Pick a few classics that you and your partner will both enjoy and spend the night relaxing with a movie marathon. Valentine’s Day should be about celebrating your relationship and having fun, so let the chores wait another day.
Text by Katherine Polcari
What Is Wine Pairing?
As old as civilization itself, wine has been a staple to the diets of many cultures. In some parts of the world, it was even considered safer to drink than the water. In modern times, we tend to focus on the actual experience of dining itself. This experience can be amplified by finding a delicious wine that pairs well with the flavor profile of the foods served.
At its core, wine functions best as a palate cleanser. This means that pairing wines with certain foods will make eating the food itself a more worthwhile experience. But how do you know what wine pairs well with what food? And how can someone pair wines with food when they can’t even tell the difference in wine varieties? These five tips will have you pairing food and wines like a sommelier in no time!
You may not be entirely familiar with the flavor profiles for different wines. Never to fear: the flavor profiles for food are already familiar to most food enthusiasts. Though there may be as many as twenty different kinds of tastes on the tongue, they can be boiled down to a list of six. These are the flavors fatty, salty, acidic, sweet, bitter, and spicy. When it comes to pairing, your first step is to decide which flavor is most prominent in the dish you’re serving. For example, bacon would chiefly have a salty taste, whereas bread pudding would be sweet.
Similarities Shine, Opposites Attract
Where wine pairings shine is in the balance of flavors between the wine and food. A congruence pairing brings together a wine and food with similar flavors, creating balance. On the contrary, a complementary pairing brings together a food and wine with flavors that contradict each other. Once you’ve determined the primary flavor of the food and what kind of pairing you’re looking for, it’s time to find wine with the right flavor profile.
The flavor profiles for different varieties of wine are simple to understand. This is because wine only has three types: bitter, acidic and sweet. Most red wines have a bitter flavor profile. Next, sparkling, white, and rosé wines all have a pronounced acidic flavor profile. Finally, sweet wines obviously have large notes of sweetness in their flavor profile.
For the pairing beginner, there are a couple of staple rules that can help your wine pairing. First, one should always make sure the wine is more acidic than the food. When you don’t know what goes well with a flavor of food, you can also base it on regional pairing. For example, Italian food can go well with an Italian wine like Bianco or Rosso. Also, red wines pair best with bold meats like steak. In contrast, white wines pair well with light meats like chicken or fish.
Now that you understand the basics of wine and food flavors, how does you choose the right wine with the right food? It all goes back to congruent or complementary pairings. For example, if trying a complementary pairing, chicken pairs well with many different kinds of wine. Although it pairs well with wines like rosé, the best one to choose is a light white wine. The high acidity of the wine creates a complementary pairing with the chicken by cleansing the palate. On the other hand, a congruent pairing would be like pairing a chardonnay with a salad with vinaigrette dressing. Both of these flavors have high acidity, which similarly complement each other.
Ready to create your own pairings? Market Table stocks a wide variety of wines perfect for any meal you put on your table. If you’re thirsty for wine on a Thursday, swing by Market Table for our weekly sale: buy one bottle, get the next 20% off. Ladies, if you’re free on Thursday, January 25th, Market Table would love to have you as our guest at Girl’s Night Out. Taste four of our fine new wines and enjoy two full glasses of the wine of your choosing, along with an array of delicious appetizers. Tickets are only $15 and can be purchased here — and if you’re busy in January, be sure to clear your calendar for our next Girl’s Night Out on Thursday, February 22nd. Any time you need a little help with wine pairing, we’re always here with palates that can help you find the perfect wine to pair with your guests’ heaping plates.
Text by Jonathon Page