Foods that taste better at room temperature

blindfold eatingEver noticed how some foods taste better at room temperature, like red wine? But there’s nothing like a cool glass of lemonade on a hot day.

We take a look at the classics, including the tastes studied in a 2012 study by Martha Bajec, Gary Pickering and Nancy DeCourville.

Room temperature

Sour and astringent (dry) foods will taste stronger at warmer temperatures. For example:

  • Red wine
  • Legumes
  • Nuts
  • Chips and salsa
  • Hummus

Some foods that taste stronger at room temperature are not recommended to be kept at room temperature for long because of food safety reasons, such as cheese and eggy quiches.

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Chill out

Bitter flavours taste stronger when chilled, such as white wine.

Other foods that people prefer when made using chilled ingredients are:

  • Salad
  • Fruit salad
  • Potato salad
  • Smoothies
  • Ice cream and sorbet

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People from different countries disagree about what temperature their drink should be when eating a meal, according to a 2013 study by the French National Institute of Agronomy and the University of Arkansas. In many Asian countries, people like a hot drink like green tea while they eat. Europeans want their drinks at room temperature. North Americans famously prefer all their drinks ‘on the rocks’ with ice, whether it’s fruit juice or alcohol.

Chocolate and beer are another couple of controversial tastes, where people all over the world have spent decades debating whether warm or cold tastes better. Maybe that’s because the ‘sweet’ taste is not affected at all by temperature, according to the 2012 study.

The 2013 study found that sweet things like chocolate can taste stronger when accompanied by a room temperature glass of water. Researchers also found that salty and bitter foods did not taste stronger when accompanied by chilled water, which was not what they’d expected. To taste stronger, the salty or bitter foods had to be chilled themselves.

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The most amazing food study we’ve heard of so far was this one by Charles Spence at Oxford. He found that the majority of people surveyed could tell whether a liquid was hot or cold just from hearing it being poured into a cup.

Where do you stand on taste and temperature? Steaming hot or clinking with ice, or somewhere in between?

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