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"To Enhance Flavor, Just Add Water"

"To Enhance Flavor, Just Add Water"
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  • "To Enhance Flavor, Just Add Water"

    Post #1 - July 28th, 2010, 5:33 am
    Post #1 - July 28th, 2010, 5:33 am Post #1 - July 28th, 2010, 5:33 am
    Harold McGee has a fascinating piece in today's New York Times (free registration may be required). The title of the piece is the title of this thread and the point of the article is that adding water--in other words, diluting--wine, spirits...even coffee, can enhance the flavor of the beverage. Counter-intuitive, as he concedes, but apparently so. I'll admit I'm skeptical--it is indeed counter-intuitive--but Harold McGee's got enough credibility that there must be something to it.
    Gypsy Boy

    "I am not a glutton--I am an explorer of food." (Erma Bombeck)
  • Post #2 - July 28th, 2010, 7:21 am
    Post #2 - July 28th, 2010, 7:21 am Post #2 - July 28th, 2010, 7:21 am
    That totally makes sense to me. I don't go to concerts anymore because of the expense and effort, but when I did, I HAD to use earplugs to bring the sound level to an enjoyable level. Otherwise, the noise was overwhelming and unpleasant.

    Dilution of strong flavors sounds like the exact same thing.
    “Assuredly it is a great accomplishment to be a novelist, but it is no mediocre glory to be a cook.” -- Alexandre Dumas

    "I give you Chicago. It is no London and Harvard. It is not Paris and buttermilk. It is American in every chitling and sparerib. It is alive from tail to snout." -- H.L. Mencken
  • Post #3 - July 28th, 2010, 7:23 am
    Post #3 - July 28th, 2010, 7:23 am Post #3 - July 28th, 2010, 7:23 am
    It is actually a different mechanism at work. In the case of aromas from alcohol:

    How can water reduce one sensation and amplify another? Both alcohol and aroma molecules are volatile, meaning they evaporate from foods and drinks and are carried by the air to the odor receptors high up in the nasal cavity.

    Aroma molecules are also more chemically similar to alcohol molecules than they are to water, so they tend to cling to alcohol, and are quicker to evaporate out of a drink when there’s less alcohol to cling to.

    This means that the more alcoholic a drink is, the more it cloisters its aroma molecules, and the less aroma it releases into the air. Add water and there’s less alcohol to irritate and burn, and more aroma release.

    The same principle explains why stiff martinis and Manhattans can be less aromatic than lower-proof cocktails, as many bartenders know.
  • Post #4 - July 28th, 2010, 7:34 am
    Post #4 - July 28th, 2010, 7:34 am Post #4 - July 28th, 2010, 7:34 am
    It's not uncommon to serve whisky, particularly barrel strength whisky, with some water.

    http://www.scotchmaltwhisky.co.uk/how-to-drink.htm wrote:ADDING WATER
    Whether or not you should add water to your whisky is entirely about personal taste. Many who drink their whisky neat say they do not want to spoil the taste by adding water to it.

    However, there are just as many whisky drinkers who say that adding a touch of water, especially soft still spring water will enhance the aroma and flavour of a whisky and bring out the whiskies hidden characteristics. It is worth noting that tap water can contain high levels chlorine and would spoil rather than complement your whisky, if this is the case with your tap water it is best avoided.

    The true lover of whisky will drink their whisky as the professionals do, with a little clear water. Adding a little water to whisky before drinking will prevent the strength of the whisky numbing your senses and reducing your enjoyment of the whisky. It is widely said that you should dilute your whisky with a fifth water. Everyone's tastes varies, so its worth adding just a little water at a time to see what you prefer. Having said all that I do agree that some whiskies are best without any water added.
  • Post #5 - July 28th, 2010, 7:38 am
    Post #5 - July 28th, 2010, 7:38 am Post #5 - July 28th, 2010, 7:38 am
    The article discusses this.

    When I was at distilleries in Scotland a few years ago, the standard way to taste was to first rub a little whiskey on the skin between your thumb and first finger. The slightly heat from your hand would make it a little easier to smell various aromas. We then tasted the whiskey, with about a spoonful of water added to each pour of whiskey.
  • Post #6 - September 13th, 2010, 7:08 am
    Post #6 - September 13th, 2010, 7:08 am Post #6 - September 13th, 2010, 7:08 am
    I used to scoff at it, but now I always add a touch of water to scotch or bourbon. It really does help more of the intricacies come out.
  • Post #7 - June 13th, 2022, 12:18 pm
    Post #7 - June 13th, 2022, 12:18 pm Post #7 - June 13th, 2022, 12:18 pm
    Water: Elixir of Taste by Priya Mani
    Water is to India what soil is to Europe, says design researcher Priya Mani: “There is a fundamental difference between considering soil as the basis of taste, as in terroir, and the Indian approach that credits water, or the lack of it, for a food’s intrinsic taste. In India, terroir can be found in the sacrosanct too.”
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
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