Palate-enhancing foods

First, let me state what I’m not talking about:

  1. A palate-cleanser (like sorbet or mint)
  2. A food that pairs well with wine

I’m talking about a food, that if ingested several hours prior to a wine tasting, “super-charges” your palate. Stay with me.

The back-story: I’m at my mother’s house up in the peninsula a week or so ago and she has these dates. Sunsweet “Deglet Noir” dried dates. I hadn’t had a date in years, so I popped a couple in my mouth as a snack about 3 p.m. Later that evening, I tasted a wine ('14 Scherrer OMV) that I’m very familiar with. The aromas and palate impression were extraordinarily vivid.

So I’m back home and I see a bag of this stuff at Safeway and purchase. First off, I’m not crazy about these dates. They have a dry, gritty texture, but an interesting, spicy taste, something akin to allspice or cinnamon. Very subtle - but they make my tongue tingle slightly. And, after ingesting these rascals, my palate and nose have seemingly continued to show these super-hero qualities. Last night it was with a '13 Dehlinger Goldridge Pinot, another wine that I’m familiar with.

My experiment continues. Has anyone else experienced anything similar to this?

Oysters. Oh, wait, wrong topic…

I would think drinking those wines right after eating something as sweet as dates would make the wine taste less interesting.

Then again, I popped a 14 Scherrer OMV zin a week or two ago and didn’t think it was showing well. It’ll probably be good down the road, but it seemed to lack finesse and integration at this age. Maybe I needed to eat dates first.

Chris, it was about 2.5 hours later. Still, small sample size. Grab a bag and tell me what you think!

Mike, here’s my best guess:

Dates are naturally high in sugar and consequently, are easy to metabolize. I know for myself, and it has been reported to be true, that when I’m hungry I have a heightened tasting sensitivity. Putting two and two together, my guess is that the dates are essentially working as an appetizer. It’s stimulating your appetite even if you’re not feeling particularly hungry, it is turn making your palate more sensitive.

Taylor, the are not ostensibly sweet (like raisins, for example). But you could be correct. Grab a bag and tell me what you think.

Hash brownies


Grab a bag Neal. I don’t really like them, but my limited experience suggests they pack a punch.

The dates, I mean.

I have some in the fridge…I’m a big fan of dates. Might experiment tomorrow!


Not over as long a period, but I find ahi sushi to be a great palate setter-upper for bubbly, whites, and pinots over the next 30 minutes.

“Undressed” romaine lettuce leaves as a snack before viognier or SB, also.

Beets seem to set my palate up nicely, as well.


Maybe I’m not crazy, at least in concept (Anton and I don’t agree all that often).

Grab a bag Anton!

What would a lawyer know about something illegal? [swoon.gif]

Dates are sticky and cling to your teeth pretty well.

Did you scrub your teeth (w/o toothpaste) after the dates?

If not, I’d hazard a guess that the residual sugar/date matter on your teeth is interacting with the wine, and enhancing its flavor.

I wonder what, say, a chablis or a Ceritas Chard would taste like after the dates…

I have a bunch of Costco dates in the cupboard, and may experiment tomorrow…

I think salty foods are the best palate prep as fruits mute the fruites in the wine. Salt seems to be the most conducive to taste. Some fat as well. Say, how about pork rinds?

Mike - there’s a Middle Eastern grocery store down the block from me and they have several kinds of dates and figs. I buy them on occasion, but haven’t found what you’re talking about to be the case. Then again I haven’t looked either. My hunch is that Katrina is right - dates are really sweet. When you keep them too long they harden and you can grind them up and use them like sugar.

But fear not! Even if the dates don’t enhance your palate for later wine tasting, they will enhance your snacking if you wrap each one with bacon and stick it under the broiler for a while. When I make those, I cook the bacon first, not until it’s crisp but almost. Then it crisps up nicely under the broiler. Otherwise your dates get burned before the bacon is cooked. Once they caught fire, but not usually.

Lawrence - I believe this is the best way to get your salts and your fats.

Greg, brown butter dates. Add raisins and/or nuts as you please.

Well, Mike…I know this lady over in Bakersfield named Gertrude that would love to have a date w/ you. She loves super-heros!! [snort.gif]
Sorry, Mike…couldn’t resist that one. Me bad.

Thanks for the thought…I’ll buy some today & give them a shot.

Tongue steroids Tom!

Or maybe a fluke. The experiment continues!

I have been curious about whether the Miracle Fruit tablets would work for wine, or if the drinking of an alcoholic liquid would counteract the effects…

Anecdote Warning

When I was a teacher, I would sometimes ask the principal to send a few students who displayed discipline issues to my classroom during my planning period.

The middle school kids would sit around a horseshoe-shaped table covered with small plates containing slices of lemons, limes, calamansi fruit, etc. I would give a little talk about how the table before the pupils represented the unpleasant experiences in life. Each child would be asked to taste the different citrus fruits and make comments on the flavors. Predictably, the reactions were strong.

I then would ask everyone to place a “Miracle Fruit Berry” in his/her mouth and allow it to dissolve slowly while I talked about the power every person has to change one’s own attitude and perception.

I would discuss the idea that people have the ability to look at the same event in more than one way. An unpleasant hour doesn’t have to ruin one’s day; we do not have to allow people with rotten attitudes to make us feel as miserable as they do, etc…

By now, the “Miracle Fruit” had thoroughly dissolved in everybody’s mouths, and we were ready to re-taste the sour fruit.

The faces around me lit up as soon as the kids reached the calamansi fruit. What had previously been the most sour thing many of the children had ever tasted was now sweeter than any candy or dessert they had eaten. I soon had empty plates before me.

I asked the students if something was different. Their heads would nod up and down. I asked if the fruit was changed. Some would say yes, but a couple of the boys and girls would disagree. I would take a bite (having not eaten a Miracle Berry), and my mouth would involuntarily cringe. Someone would raise a hand, and say that the fruit was the same as before - it just tasted different to them.

After struggling to find the words, some students would cooperatively build on one another’s words. The fruit was like life’s unpleasant moments; the tastes of the kids had changed, and they could now experience the difference in themselves.

I would then wrap things up by trying to work out real-life situations where the students had encountered “sour” moments, and we explored ways that the same situations could be “sweetened” by changes in attitude, perspective, or behaviors. It was always a fun, relatively inexpensive way to reach out to the kids that were often dismissed by some school personnel as “problem children” or who possessed a small toolkit for addressing life’s challenges.

End of Anecdote

Anyway, I think it would be neat to try these Miracle Fruit tablets out with a wine tasting. I am not sure if it would work, however.

I DO know that an unsalted bite of steak doesn’t harmonize with a Cabernet Sauvignon’s tannins the same way as a salted piece of beef does…

Everything is better with bacon [highfive.gif]