DIY Experiments: Flavor and the Retronasal Pathway

DIY Experiments: Flavor and the Retronasal Pathway Copy

Ever notice that food doesn’t taste as good (or at all) when you have a cold? That’s because our sense of smell plays a major role in what we taste. More specifically, the “retronasal pathway,” the area behind the nose that connects to the mouth, is responsible for translating smell into flavor.

Since taste and smell are inextricably linked, we can’t properly teach how to taste wine without first demonstrating how the retronasal pathway works. Enter the “Skittles test” – a simple experiment we conduct in our classes. Below is our social media gal, Adriana Ramirez, demonstrating how to do this at home.

1. Grab some Skittles, jelly beans, or your favorite fruity candy. Pinch your nose.

skittle test

2. Put candy in your mouth and chew, while keeping your nose plugged. Can you taste anything?

3. Let go of your nose. Can you taste anything now?

If you answered “no”, then “yes”, you’ve just experienced the retronasal pathway. Congrats! Pour yourself a glass of wine and try the experiment again. Or just drink the wine.


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