Join us as we tap into our senses to create the perfect flower, food, and wine pairings with The Herb Somm.
One of our greatest gifts is our ability to use our five senses to interpret the world around us. Sight, smell, sound, taste, and touch all work harmoniously together to shape what we perceive. These important senses allow us to gain knowledge, to protect ourselves, and to enjoy the things we love.
While we unconsciously use our senses on a day-to-day basis, many of us spend little time focusing on how to best use our natural given powers. Just like training your memory when studying for a test, you can apply these same techniques to improving your five senses, particularly smell and taste.
After working in the wine industry for over ten years, sensory evaluation is a fantastic tool you can use to help fine-tune your senses. Sommeliers are trained to use sight, smell, and taste to identify different characteristics in wines to make the best recommendations for any occasion. You can also apply this knowledge to flower.
Much like wine, flower is packed with aromas, flavors, and different therapeutic properties. Each strain has unique characteristics due to farming practices and the terroir in which it was grown to create different and expressive cannabinoid and terpene profiles. Terpenes are the chemical compounds that give flower all of the aromas and flavors we can perceive. They are produced in the same gland as common cannabinoids THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (Cannabidiol) and offer many health benefits including anti-inflammatory, anti-stress, and anti-anxiety properties. Terpenes also interact synergistically with cannabinoids to create what researchers call the “ensemble effect” or the “entourage effect.” Due to these interactions, certain strains will make you feel uplifted, sleepy, energized, etc.
Over 100 terpenes have been identified so far, each with its unique aroma and flavor profile. By tapping into your senses, you can learn to recognize the differences between each one and apply this knowledge to every life day experiences, including pairing flower with food and even wine. This is what we call “discovering your herbal palate.”
To do this correctly, you must first improve your sense of smell for flower by using sensory evaluation. One of the best ways to do this is to go to your local grocery store and pick out some fruits, herbs, vegetables, and spices to smell. While terpenes are naturally found in flower, they are also found in many other fruits, vegetables, and herbs including lemon, mango, mushrooms, pine nuts, dill, rosemary, tangerines, cinnamon, black pepper, etc.
After purchasing these items, cut or muddle them separately, then place into small jars or wine glasses and smell the aromas. Remember, your sense of smell is approximately 1,000 times more sensitive than taste. As a result, “flavor” is created by roughly 75% smell (olfaction) and 25% taste (gustation). Aromas also bind to your memory, so be sure to make a mental imprint of the scents you are perceiving. These are terpenes!
To help identify specific aromas, here is a quick look at six common terpenes along with their aroma descriptors.