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          This 3-hour hands on flavour master class, a part of the Food and Wine Festival at William Angliss was facilitated by Max Allen, wine writer and judge and Richard Cornish, food author and critic.

This was going to be more than just a food and wine tasting with commentary by Industry experts. It was an adventure in Neurogastronomy: how the brain creates flavour and why it matters, a lesson in calibrating your most sensitive instruments – your senses of smell and taste – to get maximum pleasure from your own palate.

My first inkling that we were going to be for an interesting night came with specific instructions, just a few “small” requests to help us experience a rewarding taste master class:

  • Firstly, do not wear cologne, perfume or scented deodorant to the class as this will interfere with your sense of smell.
  • Secondly, be somewhat abstemious in your eating in the hours prior as it has been scientifically proven that appetite sharpens the sense of smell and taste.
  • Thirdly, wash your hands just prior to the class
    Finally, we would ask everyone to consider their disposition. Anxiety, anger, and other negative emotions have been proven to have an effect on the way humans experience smell.

Our taste journey commenced with a series of small numbered zip locked bags, with substances to help distinguish sweet, salty, sour and bitter. From there we took a mini science lesson through the brain to understand the connection between taste and smell and how the combination gives us flavour. Max couldn’t see why wine tasters start with purely smelling and then cull down the hopeful winners, when flavour has to be experienced by combining both

We moved onto interesting experiments and plenty of delicious things to eat and drink, from jamon and smoked ham to naughty cheeses, exquisite dashi, and olives with some of the finest wines. Suddenly the “flavour bridge” made sense when matching food and beverage. Common elements, for example, lactic acid found in ham, bread and beer marry well.

Max and Richard were highly entertaining and full of knowledge. I’ll keep you posted if I hear of future classes.

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