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Do we actually enjoy the taste of wine and beer or is it a learned response?

Discussion in 'Science' started by Foliage, Oct 1, 2012.

  1. Foliage

    Foliage Member

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    https://twitter.com/rolololand/status/252676618785542144

    I just asked Dr Karl this (Triple J science guru who knows literally everything) so curious what OCAU's answer is.

    The question is do we actually enjoy the taste of beer and wine, or is it a learned response from our brain due to it linking the taste with pleasure. For example if you say drink an entire bottle of Jim Beam and become horribly ill for days, most people will say "I can't drink Jim Beam, just the smell makes me ill" because their brain has associated that smell/taste with poison, its a learned response. However on the flip side if people always drink small shots of vodka and have a great time, even though it literally tastes like petrol/poison they will enjoy the taste as they link it with the pleasure they expect to feel.

    Is wine and beer the same, are they actually just learned responses? They say our taste buds mature over time which certainly explains why we start to like things like vegemite, cheese, olives, pickles etc, but does it also explain beer, vodka, wine?

    I have even heard of people who do lots of ecstasy pills enjoy the taste of chewing them up, even though it tastes like burning chemicals they link the horrid taste with intense pleasure so enjoy the taste.

    It makes sense from an evolutionary point of view, sugars and fats are hard coded to taste nice as they are calorie dense, so if sugar tastes nice you will eat more of it and hence be more likely to survive, if your brain made dirt taste nice and fruit taste awful you would almost certainly die out and become extinct. Is there a short term dynamic/adaptive taste though, eg your body learns that things are good for you (the reward system creating pleasure) so it makes these tastes/smells nice for you?

    What about if we laced cats excrement with ethanol and gave it to a tribe of humans that had never found alcohol, would they slowly turn it into a delicacy and eat it like we do with wine/beer etc?

    Curious what everyone's thoughts are, discuss. :)
     
  2. spludgey

    spludgey Member

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    I'd answer your question with "Both!"

    I can honestly say that I do enjoy beer (not wine though) and I remember not liking beer the first time I tried it.
    There are obviously foods that we are hardwired to like (high calorific foods, especially sugars) and the taste of alcohol is not one of them. However, I do believe that we have rewired our brains in such a way that we do now enjoy the taste of previously unenjoyable substances.

    Just my theory though, feel free to prove me wrong.
     
  3. The Wolf

    The Wolf Member

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    I don't think it would quite work like that.
    I could see how you could enjoy drinking vodka, and get a pleasure response from the physical action. The ethanol causes a burn that releases dopamine, so you get a rush. You could enjoy vodka because of the thought of a dopamine rush.
    But I think a drink being associated with an entire experience, and then causing a pleasurable release is a bit too a complex pathway to go down.

    With the smell causing bad memories it is a fairly simple pathway to go down (I cant eat melted cheese.... Bad cheese pizza once)
    But I think having a "good time" is too split up over various stimuli to be associated with one action. A good time is a complex system of stimuli and emotional response. Vodka making you sick is pretty directed
     
  4. mortal

    mortal Member

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    Can drink copious amounts of beer - hated it at first but have enjoyed it since switching years ago from bourbon due to others drinking only beer. Haven't learned to drink wine or coffee (yet)...although I have no want or need to learn. I do get weird looks about the coffee part, its mainly a hot drink thing. Burned my mouth/tongue too many times to like it :D
     
    Last edited: Oct 1, 2012
  5. WRC

    WRC Member

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    Well I'm pretty much a non drinker. Never really liked the taste of alcohol.

    However on a really hot day if I've been outside working I get a craving for a cool beer to quench my thirst. No idea why. Only time I ever think about beer.
     
  6. OP
    OP
    Foliage

    Foliage Member

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    If you had the choice of alcoholic or non alcoholic would either be more preferable?
     
  7. Diode

    Diode Member

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    You've been groomed by VB. :p
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WA1h9h7-_Z4
     
  8. B.D.R

    B.D.R Member

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    I think it is learnt to like the stuff:thumbup:

    Every single time i drank anything i hated it at first, got over it though, but since i stoped the foul taste has come back:(, i guess i have learnt to unlike it now:tongue:

    Guess thats why alcohol companys go to huge lengths to cover the taste, hence all the tart fuel in the bottlo's these days:lol:
     
  9. oculi

    oculi Member

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    lol

    I've never been drunk on Jim beam, except the one time i was using it to chase cheap port, this may have put me off it but i think there are two parts to your question:

    1: do people actually enjoy the taste of Wine, beer, (and by my extension olives, caviar, pate, sardines etc)

    2: does getting wasted on certain types of alcohol make you not want to drink that again.

    there is something to the theory that taste buds mature as we age, but also something to the idea that people only enjoy things because they think they should.

    as for the second, i still can't stomach tequila, but have been seriously messed up on rum, vodka, red wine etc and still love it.

    i have a spirit that is ~75% alcohol and you can really notice the chemical taste and smell, normal strength spirits taste "strong" but don't have the metho taste to them.

    never heard of chewing up ecstasy pills, figured it would be a bad idea for precisely the reasons you mention.
     
  10. dakiller

    dakiller (Oscillating & Impeding)

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    I never liked the taste of wine but my girlfriend did. I got dragged along to wineries, and not to just stand around and do nothing, I tried them all as well. It must have been the 4th or so one that I went to that I thought that I could nearly sit down and drink a glass of this. A few more times and I started to really enjoy a few of them and will now happily enjoy a bottle.

    I still don't like red wine, sweet wine or oaked wine, but will enjoy a sauvignon blanc or pinot grigio. I also learned to like them without ever feeling the alcoholic effects of them.
     
  11. WRC

    WRC Member

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    Not really.

    Werd!
     
  12. TERRA Operative

    TERRA Operative Member

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    I can't handle the flavour of ethanol at all. All alcoholic drinks have always tasted bad to me, I've never had enough in one go to give me a good or bad experience, I just have never liked it.
     
  13. Delator

    Delator Member

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    you can say the same about every substance.
     
  14. m3k

    m3k Member

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    I assume its like Vegemite, or chilli, i remember hating it starting out, but its grown on me.

    the taste not so much, but i dislike the smell of alcoholic beverages on peoples breath- its very obnoxious and strong, making it almost hard to talk to people when they've been drinking. I even avoid kissing cause of it :Paranoid:
     
  15. .Radiant

    .Radiant Member

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    I'd say learned then enjoyed.

    In terms of alcohol, no one enjoys the taste of alcohol when they first start drinking but you drink more and become accustomed to the taste. Thats when you start to delve more into it, begin to realise the other tastes and begin to enjoy. Though some never go past that and just go for the effect :Paranoid:

    I used to hate beer(the taste of hops anyway), now I find the bitterness bearable and am enjoying the other things it has to offer.
     
  16. garetz

    garetz Member

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    Everything you eat and drink is an acquired taste. If your parents cook something terribly bad and you eat it as a kid, you become adverse to eating it as you grow older and become an adult. The same time if its cooked well you will eat it for the rest of your life.

    I also find things that i abhorred as a child i love as an adult, so tastes do change over time.

    A good example is tripe, my mum overcooked the crap out of it, made it rubbery and smelled terrible, however goto a good restaurant, where its cooked right, and it can taste heavenly.
     
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2012
  17. OP
    OP
    Foliage

    Foliage Member

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    This thread was more about the science behind why we "learn" to like the flavour of some things.

    Why don't we learn to like the flavour of cat shit?
     
  18. garetz

    garetz Member

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    This is the most ridiculous thing i have heard for many months.

    The reason why we do not learn to like the taste of cat shit is cause noone eats it firstly, and cat shit is not food. Why don't we go around eating grass and beach sand or dirt. It is equally as ridiculous a premise.

    Its not like someone is going to eat any creatures excrement, and think hmm, why haven't i eaten this before, it tastes fantastic, i should open up a restaurant and serve this shit literally, to everyone. Even if it did taste fantastic, we eat with many senses including smell, and shit doesn't smell appetising does it ? There is a very good reason for that, cause its not food.
     
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2012
  19. Shepete

    Shepete Member

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    There is not much you can do to make a sheeps guts attractive


    They have and do. They call them McDonald's & Pizza hut or other shit franchise of your choice.

    No one has ever picked up an alcoholic beverage or cigarette, had one go on it & said beauty I'll have another. They train themselves to take it.
    I find it comical, the number of people who insist on having a "high end" Scotch or Bourbon & mixing it with coke or whatever. They mix it because they can't stand the taste of alcohol. That is why the plethora of "tart fuels" as BDR called them exist. Cover up the taste with sugar.
     
  20. oculi

    oculi Member

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    really?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kopi_Luwak

    caviar is fish poo
    by the way i know it is eggs, but i like this joke from "bottom" which is a great tv series that you should all go out and watch immediately
    and plenty of people eat mcdonalds...
     
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2012

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