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Taste aversion to alcohol?

  • m

Despite lack of a scientific background, I do believe in the biological taste aversions some people have. For me, cilantro and ginger just taste wrong.

That said, I'm also particularly sensitive to the taste of alcohol. Beer, hard alcohol and red wines are just flat out unpalatable. White wines are less intensely disgusting, but I would never describe them as tasting good. Believe me, I've tried to "develop a taste" and appreciation. I do wine tastings. I have sommeliers help out. I can talk day and night about the different tastes and complexities, varietals, pairing with food and so on about beer, wine and spirits. But in the end, there is a common thread among these beverages which I have never gotten "used to" or enjoyed. Some things are better than others, but in the end, alcohol never tastes great.

I strongly believe this is beyond personal taste, but unlike cilantro and ginger, I've not heard many other people talk about TASTE aversions to alcohol specifically (yes, I know it makes many sick to their stomach or gives migraines).

I'm curious if others share this taste aversion. (I realize it may almost seem embarrassing to admit in our culture). If so, do you still drink?

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  1. I know several people who don't like the "taste" of certain types of alcohol or all types of alcohol. If they don't lik it they don't drink it. I don't think they are embarrassed by it or causes them any social issues.

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    1. re: JudiAU

      I was surprised when one grad student in my lab was teasing another about his never ever even trying alcohol.

      I asked him if he had ever drunk too much and woken up with a hangover. Yes, he said. Well Frank never has; 'nuff said.

      I got the impression the non-imbiber had grown up seeing alcohol abuse in his family. He certainly did not begrudge others imbibimg, including his wife.

    2. Yes, I know several that can stand the taste of alcohol (and believe me, I've tried to disguise it when it's an intigral part of a dish.)

      When I'm having someone over that's told me that they don't drink or use alcohol, I attempt to make a dish that doesn't use it. They're appreciative and so am I because I understand how finding a particular food in a dish can ruin an otherwise wonderful evening.

      1. I don't like the taste of alcohol, period. Given that, I don't drink. Of course there's always the exception to the rule, I do like the occasional fruity/tropical drink, but it has to be fruity enough so I don't taste the alcohol and I might have one of those like every couple of years or so. I also like to cook with wine sometimes, but I don't taste any alcohol in the finished dish, just the taste of the wine. Just my two cents...

        1. Speaking as one who has been a biochemist for 40 years, if it feels bad, don't do it!

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          1. re: TCUJoe

            I was remembering an observation I made in high school - the people who really didn't like the taste of alcohol at first were the same people who ended up with drinking problems. Obviously this particular sample developed a taste for it pretty quickly, but it did seem like maybe there was a reason their bodies rejected it at first - lower genetic tolerance? Who knows.

          2. It seems you're going to get responses from many angles on this. But I don't think you're talking about the pros and cons or drinking or the why's either.

            I'm very much into wine, but there is a definite 'taste' in many wines (mostly reds) that I just don't like. Over the years I've come to believe that it is the taste of what I think can be described as "unbalanced alcohol". That is where the alcohol either dominates the other flavors and characteristics of the wine or where it is not 'complimented' by the other tastes.

            I'm not sure this 'theory' is technically correct from an oenology standpoint, but I've come to be able to distinguish most of the more usually described tastes (and aromas) in wine, and there's a commonality to many of the ones I don't like that I really believe is the alcohol.

            One of the reasons I think this is possibly related to the 'balance' of wine flavors with the alcohol, is that what I taste is not the same pure alcohol taste as hard liquor. Or it could be that alcohol from grain-based liquor has a different taste than that from grapes.

            I'd really be interested in any educated opinions on this subject. I already know that I shouldn't drink something if I don't like it. I would just like to be able to understand what it is that I don't like in a wine in more specific terms.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Midlife

              Thank you for that post.

              Like cilantro and ginger, I recognize the significance of the specific tastes of alcohol in its various forms. I think this idea is similar to what you describe.

              For example, I love al pastor tacos. When cilantro is available or offered, I don't request they leave it out. While cilantro alone tastes repulsive, I'm familiar enough with it as an element in the dish that the dissonance is welcome. It still tastes bad, but it's part of the character of the dish. This similarly applies to ginger in Chinese foods.

              The only way I can explain it is: foods where these flavors belong, whether I like them or not, would be like a puzzle with a missing piece if they were omitted.

              This applies to wine and alcoholic drinks. I appreciate and enjoy the complexities of flavor in wine but there is always a single element present that I will detest. I think it's physiological, but unlike cilantro and ginger, I haven't heard anyone discuss it in those terms.