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What’s a supertaster and how can you tell if you’re one of them?




Juan Pablo Socino of the Newcastle Falcons takes a bite of his cheesesteak at Geno's Steaks on September 14, 2017 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Juan Pablo Socino of the Newcastle Falcons takes a bite of his cheesesteak at Geno's Steaks on September 14, 2017 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

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It’s not quite a superpower, but about a quarter of humans experience taste more intensely – and  they’re known as supertasters.

Whether you’re a supertaster is directly related to how many papillae are on your tongue. Papillae are those little bumps on your tongue that are home to the bundles of cells that are your taste buds.

There are a few ways to determine whether you fall into this supercategory. One of them include wine and a piece of paper. Another indicator is the kinds of foods you do and don’t enjoy. Contrary to what it may sound like, a supertaster might find eating less enjoyable because their taste is so amplified, meaning they don’t enjoy strong flavors such as IPA beers and spicy foods.

Are you a supertaster? How does that affect what you choose to eat? How do you negotiate the social aspects of eating as or with a supertaster?

Guests:

Rob DeSalle, author of the piece on supertasters in the science publication, Nautilus; he is a curator at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, and author of the new book, “Our Senses: An Immersive Experience” (Yale University Press, 2018)

Mike Steinberger, author of “The Wine Savant” (W. W. Norton & Company, 2014); former wine columnist for Slate.com