No, this is not another post about the Sacrament. Flying home on United yesterday, I read an interesting article in the airline magazine on “umami.” Our tastebuds can perceive five different taste sensations, the combination of which–along with texture and temperature–constitutes all of the different flavors of foods. The five tastes are sweet, sour, bitter, salty, and “umami,” a Japanese word that I would translate as “savory.” It’s that deep savory taste you get from a good steak or a piece of aged cheese. It’s also found in mushrooms and tomatoes. For a pure hit, which isn’t all that good-tasting by itself, taste some soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, or MSG.
When combined with the acids or, more specifically, ribonucleotides isonine and guanosine—found in fermented foods, from yeast-based bread to wine—“umami synergism” occurs, flooding the mouth with an amped-up savoriness.
This is why bread and wine make food taste better!