Despite being something we do every day, tasting is more complicated than simply deciding “I like that!” Tasting, as both a standard practice in the beverage industry and an art in its own right, involves thoughtful consideration to the full experience of a beverage. From the boldness of its color to the intensity of its aftertaste, there are many factors involved in building and describing a beverage’s flavor profile – that’s why we’ve compiled a simple list of do’s and don’ts to get you started on your own tasting adventures.

The Do’s

1.) Only taste a few samples at a time, preferably no more than six. Tasting multiple samples will only decrease your ability to pick out specific aspects of the flavor.

2.) Taste samples at room temperature. While most products are not typically consumed at room temperature, tasting samples in this neutral state will allow you to pick out subtle differences you would not be able to detect in a hot or cold product, allowing you to better understand its flavor profile.

3.) Try to schedule your tasting between breakfast and lunch. Not only will this give you more of a neutral mouth and stomach, but your senses are more alert in the morning.

4.) Ask yourself lots of questions. Record all of your thoughts and feedback. One of the most important questions to ask yourself when tasting is, “Would I drink a whole bottle/can of this product?”

The Don’ts

1.) Do not wear hand lotion, body sprays, cologne, or perfume when conducting a tasting. Because smell impacts flavor, other aromas may interfere with your experience tasting a product.

2.) If you are ill, try to postpone your tasting. You will not get an accurate taste of a product if your sinuses are compromised.

3.) Avoid tasting acidic samples at the same time as non-acidic ones or you will not have an accurate tasting experience. For example, if you have lemonade and root beer samples, they should be tasted separately. If you taste the sour lemonade, followed by the root beer, the root beer will not appear to be very sweet; if you reverse the tasting and do the root beer first, the lemonade will appear more sour than it actually is.

4.) Don’t rush! Take your time when tasting each sample and in between samples. Really dissect aspects like color, smell, and carbonation, as well as flavor components like sweetness, bitterness, and aftertaste.

5.) Finally, don’t forget to enjoy yourself! You may not be blown away by every sample you taste, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have fun doing it.

Written on July 17, 2019.